Srinagar airport put on high alert; Army to freeze movement on Friday
7 militants killed in two gunbattles in Handwara
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Oct 6: Even as security forces killed seven militants — all of them believed to be Pakistani jihadist cadres of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba — troops have been asked to freeze all movement as the country’s most sensitive airport in Srinagar has been put on high alert for Friday.
STATE TIMES learned from highly placed authoritative sources that in apprehension of a possible terror strike, Srinagar airport would remain on “high alert” on Friday. According to these sources, some intelligence inputs suggested possibility of a terror strike at or around Srinagar airport. In addition to a major base of Indian Air Force, there are different camps of Army, CRPF and BSF around the civil airport.
Sources said that Army would hold a ‘dry day’ in the Valley as there would be no ROPs or movement of convoys. “All the administrative movements would remain frozen”, said a senior official.
Sources said that the authorities could impose curfew in hypersensitive zones of the turbulent summer capital on Friday in view of the separatists’ call for a mass march to United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), situated in the high security zone of Sonwar. This is the fourth of such call in the last three months but officials maintained that the separatists at the instigation of Pakistan were planning veritable trouble this Friday.
The shutdown calendar issued jointly on behalf of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik on Wednesday asked the people of Kashmir valley to march to the UNMOGIP office with a memorandum. Their notification reads: “From 9 a.m, march one and all from entire Jammu and Kashmir towards the UNMOGIP Office in Srinagar and handover a memorandum to the military observers regarding India’s recent attempts of creating a war hysteria to deflect international attention from ongoing people’s uprising for freedom from forcible Indian control of Jammu and Kashmir and also asking UNO to impress upon India to shun violence and respect and adhere to UN charter and implement the UN resolutions on Kashmir”.
It called upon the Kashmiris to offer Friday afternoon congregational prayers at the spacious Tourist Reception Centre ground and Polo View sports grounds in Civil Lines area.
7 militants killed
Meanwhile, Defence sources said that Army and BSF killed seven militants in two separate gunbattles — one close to LoC in Naugam sector and another at Langate in the same Handwara area of Kupwara district — on Thursday.
“In a major blow to Pakistan sponsored terror, the alert Army and BSF troops along the LC today successfully foiled three infiltration attempts in Naugam and Rampur Sectors”, a press release from headquarters 15 Corps said.
“The Army and BSF which are on a very high state of vigil along the LC, detected two infiltrating columns of terrorists in Naugam and another in Rampur early morning today. Even though under intense fire from Pakistani posts, evidently to facilitate the infiltration, the Army immediately intercepted the terrorists ahead of the LC. While giving a befitting reply to Pak army firing, even the terrorists were engaged in a fierce gunfight and forced to flee back. The army action has resulted in the elimination of four terrorists whose bodies have been recovered from Naugam sector in the search operations that continue even at the time of filing this report”, it added.
Sources said that a group of three heavily armed militants in combat uniform attempted to enter headquarters of Rashtriya Rifles 30th battalion at Langate (Handwara), apparently for a fidayeen strike. However, the alert sentries foiled their attempt. As the militants felt that they had got exposed, they ran away towards an apple orchard. Troops quickly laid a cordon and killed all the three militants in a brief encounter. Three AK-47 rifles, three GPS devices and other arms and ammunition were recovered from their possession.
Sources said that all the seven militants killed in the two gunbattles were unidentified but strongly believed to be the Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Naugam sector in Kupwara district has been a hot infiltration route in the last three months of the Kashmir turbulence as over 60 militants are believed to have crossed LoC successfully and positioned themselves in different areas of Kupwara district.
On September 19, one soldier had got killed in an encounter with the infiltrating militants on the LoC in Naugam. Significantly most of the surgical strikes India claimed to have carried out across the LoC have been reported along the LoC in the same district. Pakistan's strategic places of Leepa Valley and Athmuqam face the LoC in Kupwara district.
The jihadist militants’ increasing presence in Kupwara district could be gauged from the reports which claim that they carried out checking of vehicles at several places. Armed militants were spotted in the funeral procession of a civilian who had died in the Police firing at Warsun, a village infested by counterinsurgents and girdled by Army camps. Armed militants were also spotted in two protest demonstrations at Lalpora, Lolab.