Cordon-and-search operations launched in Anantnag and Pulwama districts.
Srinagar: A day after the Centre formally announced not to extend the conditional Ramzan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, the security forces on Monday launched cordon-and-search operations in southern Anantnag and Pulwama districts to flush out militants dead or alive.
Separately, two more militants were on Monday killed in a gunfight raging between a group of alleged infiltrators and the security forces in Raynar woods of northern Bandipore district. The fighting broke out after militants attacked an Army patrol party in nearby Panar area about eleven days ago. Two militants and an Army jawan were killed in the clash on June 14. Earlier, two soldiers had sustained injuries in initial exchange of fire with the militants, the officials said.
The Army and police sources said that the security forces including the Army’s 3 Rashtriya Rifles, the J&K police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) laid siege to Waghama village of Bijbehara in Anantnag earlier during the day on Monday following inputs about the presence of militants.
The search operation was underway as reports last came in. “So far, no contact (with militants) has been established,” a defence spokesman here said.
Later on Monday afternoon, the troops of the Army’s 50 Rashtriya Rifles and the men from J&K police’s SOG and the CRPF moved into Samboora village of neighbouring Pulwama to launch a similar operation. “The operation was launched following a tip off about the presence of militants in the area. Door to door search is going on,” said a police official.
The Centre had May 16, a day before Ramzan started, announced to suspend counterinsurgency operations in J&K “to help the Muslim brothers and sisters to observe Ramzan peacefully and without any difficulties”.
The conditional ceasefire ended with Id, the festival that ends the Muslim fasting month, and on Sunday the Centre formally decided not to extend it and said that the security forces will now continue to take all necessary actions to prevent terrorist attacks. Home minister, Rajnath Singh, said, “Security forces are being directed to take all necessary actions as earlier to prevent terrorists from launching attacks and indulging in violence and killings. Government will continue with its endeavour to create an environment free of terror and violence in J&K.”
The officials said that the cordon-and-search operation underway at Waghama is the first such action taken by security forces since May 16. However, they have during the period taken retaliatory actions each time they were attacked by militants besides confronting the infiltrators along the Line of Control (LoC). As per official statistics, as many as 41 people including militants, security personnel and civilian were killed in militant strikes and security forces actions during the truce period.
Though the State government had during the Home Minister’s visit of Srinagar earlier this month pleaded for extending the conditional truce beyond Ramzan, it is learnt that sections of security higher-ups including some Army commanders were against such gesture. The killings of ‘Rising Kashmir’ editor Syed Shujaat Bukhari and Army rifleman Aurangzeb at the fag-end of Ramzan is reported to have prompted the government to reconsider its decision to extend the unilateral ceasefire.
The government on Sunday also said that its next priority is to conduct the Amarnath yatra successfully and ensure the two-month-long pilgrimage beginning on June 28 goes violence free. Shortly after the government announced ending the Ramzan ceasefire, Minister of State in the PMO, Jitendra Singh, said, “I think the immediate priority for all of us is conducting the upcoming Amarnath yatra in peaceful and successful manner and for that not only the government but the civil society will have to extend cooperation and we will have to ensure that nothing happens that will disrupt the Amarnath yatra and discourage the pilgrims who come from far and wide.”
In view of the stepped up activities of militants, the J&K police and Central security forces have adopted a proactive approach and have set up check barriers at various places across the Valley including the summer capital Srinagar. The Army too is back with all its vigour to take on the militants across the Valley particularly southern districts of Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag.
A tour of Srinagar by this correspondent revealed the J&K and the CRPF personnel dressed in combat fatigues and carrying latest firearms had set up makeshift check-points and drop-gates at which vehicles were being stopped for random checks.