Significant militant movement noticed in Chadoura, Ganderbal, Bandipore
Standoff continues at EDI hostel block even as some officials believe one militant is dead
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Oct 11: Police and security forces have apprehensions of a larger fidayeen strike, most likely in or around the turbulent summer capital, as they have received ‘credible reports’ of significant militant movement in Chhanpora-Chadoura belt in southern Srinagar, Ganderbal and Bandipore areas of Kashmir valley in the last few days.
Highly placed authoritative sources told STATE TIMES that a group of five Lashkar-e-Tayyiba militants, which has been in movement in Chhanpora and Kralpora areas, in close vicinity of the Indian Air Force (IAF) base, for the last one week, was planning a major strike on a military target. Police and security forces have been put on alert even as no specific target has been identified.
According to these sources, security forces have also learned about the presence and movement of a group of eight militants, including 3 Pakistani cadres of LeT, in Onagam area of Bandipore district. Forces have been informed that the militants have descended on the village twice this week to secure food and thereafter returned to the dense forest cover.
According to yet another ‘credible report’ available with Police and security forces, a group of four militants, led by a foreigner in combat gear, has been spotted in movement in Batwena, Waskora and Khanpora villages of Ganderbal district.
“We have been usually receiving such reports but there’s a perceptible change and intentions of the freshly pushed in militants to carry out high profile, newsmaking strikes are clear. We are taking all necessary precautions to fail their plans”, said a senior official. According to him, over 100 highly indoctrinated militants of LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizbul Mujahideen outfits were believed to have infiltrated into the Valley in the last over three months of the street turbulence. Army has foiled more than 20 infiltration attempts and killed around 30 militants on the LoC during the same period.
However, no major cordon-and-search operation has been conducted in the valley hinterland after the July 8 encounter in Bamdora Kokernag, Anantnag, in which three militants, including Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy Burhan Wani, had been killed. Police and security forces have been forced to completely freeze their movement beyond their camps and riot spots as the authorities have apprehensions that the people of the area under an operation could gather en mass and create disruption to help the militants escape. Fatalities in such confrontations are a stark possibility.
In absence of the patrolling and operational movement of Police and security forces, most of the rural areas in all the ten districts have assumed trappings of a ‘liberated territory’ and the unruly groups enforcing shutdown have been enjoying a field day.
Over a thousand vehicles are estimated to have been damaged and scores more torched on roads by the shutdown vigilantes in the last three months. Besides, over 500 people are estimated to have been injured in incidents of stone pelting for violating the separatists’ call for continued shutdown since July 8. In the same period around 90 persons have died in Police and security forces’ firing and thousands have been injured in firing, mostly out of the pump action guns.
EDI standoff continues
Meanwhile, the 42-hour-long standoff at EDI Hostel Complex near Pampore showed no signs of an earlier resolution as Army, CRPF and Police maintained a tight cordon on the second consecutive day on Tuesday. Sources said that Army fired dozens of PAVA shells onto all the eight floors of the concrete building to smoke out two or three militants. However, there was no response from inside till 6.00 pm when the holed up militants fired some gunshots after a pause of 35 hours.
Attempts were being made to trace the militants with the help of thermal imagers which could be fitted to unmanned aerial vehicles like on February 21 and 22 when six drones had been damaged in the three-day fidayeen action at EDI’s administrative block. Two CRPF men, one EDI employee, three militants and four Army personnel, including two young captains, had got killed in that operation.
Some officials tonight claimed that at least one militant died in the Army and Police firing but it could not be confirmed in absence of evidence. Troops of 9 Special Force and SOG Awantipore are holding the operation at EDI.
12 injured in Shopian blast
Meanwhile, four CRPF men and 8 civilians, including three women, sustained splinter injuries when suspected militants tossed a hand grenade on CRPF at Bona Bazar in Shopian town in the forenoon on Tuesday. Reports said that none of them was critical as all were treated at a local hospital.
[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]