Biggest combing in 15 years: Army, police security net around Shopian

Four soldiers injured, one civilian driver killed in attack

Written by Mir Ehsan , Sushant Singh | Srinagar | Updated: May 5, 2017 9:00 am
kashmir, jammu and kashmir, shopian, army, security forces, CRPF, army convoy attacked, army patrol party attacked, army, shopian, shopian encounter, shopian search operation, jammu army attacked, hizbul muzahhiddin, Bipin Rawat, police attacked in shopian, Kulgam, india news, indian express news Security personnel detain a stone-pelter in Shopian district on Thursday. (Source: Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

Following attacks by militants on policemen and banking facilities in J&K, the Army, security forces and police launched a massive “cordon and combing” operation in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Thursday. A senior official told The Indian Express that an operation “of this magnitude has not been undertaken in Kashmir in the last 15 years”.

In the evening, however, a vehicle carrying soldiers of 62 Rashtriya Rifles, who were involved in the operation, were attacked by militants near the Imam Sahib area, leading to the death of a civilian driver and injuries to four soldiers.

Officials said the Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack. The driver who was killed has been identified as Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Kachdoora village in Shopian.

In Delhi, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat told reporters that the combing operation was being carried out to bring the situation in the Valley under control. “The combing operation is going on as some banks were looted and some policemen have been killed. It has been launched to ensure that the situation is brought under control. These operations are carried out regularly,” he said.

Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior Army official said, “A cordon operation of this magnitude has not been undertaken in Kashmir in the last 15 years… The purpose of the operation is to exert pressure on militants and force them to move out of their comfort zone. The ravines and orchards around the Rambi Ara river (in Shopian) provide ideal hideouts for militants… they will not be able to congregate and move in large groups now.”

Sources said the operation involved nearly 4,000 personnel, which included four battalions of Rashtriya Rifles, eight companies of CRPF, and five platoons of J&K police, including 30 women constables, and the Indian Reserve Police.

Officials said the operation started in the early hours of Wednesday when soldiers and security personnel, using Mine Protected Vehicles (MPVs) and Bullet Proof Rakshaks, moved into 20 villages in Shopian district and laid a cordon around an area of 10kmx10km.

Local residents said house-to-house searches were conducted in the villages of Sugan, Turkwangam, Heff and Shirmal, from where many youngsters are suspected to have joined militant ranks. Some residents reported seeing helicopters and drones over the area.

Sources said these villages fall at the centre of Yaripura, Pulwama and Kulgam from where instances of rifle-snatching from police were reported last week.

Local residents said that while the operation was underway, protesters clashed with police at Sugan, Drazpora, Malduor and Turkwangam, with four persons said to have been injured, including one with a pellet injury on his forehead. They also alleged that four persons were arrested during the security operation.

Sources said that police and Army had received information about the presence of militants in the area, including some involved in the attack on the J&K Bank cash van in which five policemen and two private guards were killed on Monday.

They said that the militant Umar Majeed, said to have been involved in the attack, and his associates were using hideouts in the villages where the operation was conducted.

Residents said the forces also conducted search operations in apple orchards — Shopian is south Kashmir’s apple belt — following reports that militants had shot several videos in there and shared them on social media.

”Soldiers came to our village around midnight. In the morning, dozens of soldiers and policemen entered my house and searched every room. They conducted similar searches in other houses of our village,’’ said Gulzar Ahmad, from Sugan.

Abdul Gaffar Sheikh, from Heff, said, “The Army and policemen took us out of our houses and conducted searches. They inquired about the presence of militants and left the village late in the afternoon.’’

Mohammad Akram Khan, a resident of Shirmal, said they had not seen such an operation in the last two decades. “This is first time that such big crackdown was launched in our area,’’ he said.

J&K Police DIG (South Kashmir) S P Pani said the operation began in the morning and ended in the afternoon. “We had information about the presence of militants in the area so the villages were searched thoroughly. Apart from protests at two places, the operation ended successfully.’’

The return of “area domination and sweep” operations — including the cordoning of a number of villages — by such a large body of troops is throwback to the 1990s, when such actions by the Army were common. Following reports that these operations were causing discomfort to the local population, the Army switched to specific intelligence-based operations undertaken by small teams.

There was no confirmation from the Army if Thursday’s operation reflected a shift in its operational philosophy in Kashmir. But sources said that the Army is focused on asserting its physical control over the area.

The senior Army official said the operation had been planned over a month ago, but police and CRPF were not available due to the Anantnag Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled for May 25. “Once the bypoll was cancelled, police and the CRPF have moved from ‘law and order mode’ to ‘CT (counter-terrorist) mode’. It has little to do with any immediate provocation,” said the official.

According to Army estimates, there are 100 active militants in south Kashmir, including around 80 local residents who have joined militancy in the last two years.

A senior officer, who was part of Thursday’s operation, said, “This is a signal to militants that they will be taken to task.’’

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  1. J
    jack
    May 5, 2017 at 8:34 pm
    Not sure why we cant use permanent 'dye' to spray over these stone pelters who are protecting the terrorists. Then pick them up at leisure. Government should also introduce hot lines and very high rewards so people can report these traitors. We have satellite up there why cant we track the Bank looters and the terrorist camps, certainly begs a question?
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      autonomous
      May 6, 2017 at 1:23 am
      Its not that easy as said, peace loving citizens in J&K are getting threatened by gunned militants & they cant sell their lands because of those militants fearing for their lives is at peek so asking help from normal citizens will not serve desired result.
      Reply
    2. L
      l s
      May 5, 2017 at 5:22 pm
      Only fools give out details of states security. Stop chest thumping. Let the jawans do their duty. Distribute pellet guns freely among security personnel as it is the only weapon to get peace in the valley.
      Reply
      1. A
        autonomous
        May 6, 2017 at 1:25 am
        There are many non lethal weapons & ways in developed countries to control violent mob,i n d i a just need to ask & get it.
        Reply
      2. R
        Radha
        May 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm
        The word "Combing" can go with in headline without quotes? How strange. Bad editorial judgement.
        Reply
        1. K
          kamath Ramesh
          May 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm
          Surprising that forces could not find a single suspect despite such a massive search. But in the evening in same place terrorists attacked patrol unit injuring few. This shows terrorists are given safe shelter by civilians or have mingled with civilians. While there is no option, one can understand the hardship faced by the civilians when their homes are searched. To have peaceful kashmir some hardship has to be faced. But when civilians themselves are giving shelter to terrorists it is difficult job for forces.
          Reply
          1. A
            arc
            May 5, 2017 at 2:56 pm
            Yes yes we know it is the biggest, the most comprehensive and the most determined army operation against India's own people. But what has been the result after two days? All we are getting is bombast from army, center. How many terrorists have been caught in this "exhaustive" combing? Zero.
            Reply
            1. K
              kamath Ramesh
              May 5, 2017 at 3:29 pm
              If terrorists are given safe shelter by civilians or allowed to mingle with civilians what army can do. One can understand the hardship faced by the civilians when their homes are searched, to have peaceful kashmir. But when civilians themselves are giving shelter to terrorists it is difficult job for forces.
              Reply
              1. R
                Radha
                May 5, 2017 at 4:10 pm
                Leave your bias aside and think logically as a human being: how many militants are active in Kashmir? Nearly 400-600. They are spread in rural areas, particularly in north and south Kashmir, where they can hide in dense forests. What's the population in Kashmir? 12.5 million. How can you blame 12.5 million Kashmiris for giving shelter to a few hundred militants who have a vast piece of land spread in hundreds of miles, with rocky mountains, dense woods, to take shelter from? It's a fact that militants are killed in civilian areas. You know how they get into peoples houses? They knock at peoples doors in the night and enter because they can do so as they carry guns, just like army can enter into someones' home with guns. If the army and militants were unarmed, they wouldnt dare to enter someones' house in the night. People want to live in peace every where. It's the politics and vested interests that force them into certain cir stances from where they have no going back.
            2. R
              Rohan
              May 5, 2017 at 2:55 pm
              Was it not done in the past 15 years because it was not needed in the past 15 years??
              Reply
              1. P
                Piyush
                May 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm
                Katuwas are terrorists... shoot them and settle kashmiri pandits back in valley
                Reply
                1. V
                  Veera
                  May 5, 2017 at 2:16 pm
                  There are no gooddays ahead..so continue the ops even when it is peaceful
                  Reply
                  1. V
                    Veera
                    May 5, 2017 at 2:13 pm
                    Good step..hope this will continue till all the terrorists are flushed out..
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Sumit
                      May 5, 2017 at 1:58 pm
                      Kill all the trouble makers and the suspects whom the security forces suspect. If any such bank robbery or stone throwing incident happens next time, cordon off that particular area and search every house from midnight to next day. Security force must teach them a lesson if terrorist and its supporters think about making trouble again.
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        sohail
                        May 5, 2017 at 3:11 pm
                        Very sick at ude,use of power is not a solution,this will further increase hate amongs not only in kashmiri but to indian muslims also. Violence is not only in kashmir,its in asam and in 33 area where naxellites and maovwadi rulls. They do not belive in indian cons ute and kills police and army.. And w adiwasi peoples supports naxellites. Still their is no action or opration against maowadi. Modiji had alience in asam with terrorist groups and if modi is wil to talks with these hindues terrorist. Why cant he speak with kashmiri. Instead of using force first we look at US what he achived ?
                        Reply
                        1. A
                          autonomous
                          May 6, 2017 at 1:36 am
                          Separatist sent back ministers & not allowed activists to talk to them nor question them,they not even allowed MP's inside their home .Had you forgotten this nor selective amnesia? Naxels are condemnable issue but is totally different for you to compare with J&K alike comparing aplle with oranges ,talibanisation is taking place in J&K its a fact now with previous congress gov lethargic way of taking i n d i a s security.
                      2. C
                        Chandu Shah
                        May 5, 2017 at 1:23 pm
                        All of them should be made to take their trousers down and if found they are s they should be dealt with seriously
                        Reply
                        1. R
                          raju chhatlani
                          May 5, 2017 at 1:14 pm
                          cant understand why media is allowed to cover the operations.. In POK, media is fed the info and they report one sided one.. why not do this end too.. In name of democracy, media is creating problems for country and army men,,,, They are only interested in money and not country... Modi govt. should cancel their liscence if they go against the diktat of govt.
                          Reply
                          1. I
                            IndianAtHeart
                            May 5, 2017 at 12:03 pm
                            IE should stop reporting army operational and strategy details. All the drama of stone pelting etc are there to gain media attention. IE should not become a free platform for their propa a.
                            Reply
                            1. M
                              Michelle:Vedic:human
                              May 5, 2017 at 11:28 am
                              Excellence od muzzie immoral WAHABI Islamic hijramic,---- best to entertain, not to fight but in i AMMI-S BURQHA , product of un-holy tradition of Islamic homo uality by faith of Popat MO-HOMO-MAD rapist by birth, Such as HO-MO haj-ri Mo-HOMO-mad, deserter of his sons wife ZAIDA, a ra-pIst a PEDO who lured 6 yr old AISHA erupting from Arabian desert,----hindrance to truth,------Jai hind.
                              Reply
                              1. M
                                Michelle:Vedic:human
                                May 5, 2017 at 11:02 am
                                World should do humanity a favor, commit hindrance to truth f-lthY st-I-nkY half cut MULLASS, Di-ck will be better off, without a hog of ISLAM like POPAT Mohammed ra-Pi-st by birth as MUZZIE in Islam by faith, in SATAN form, Jai hind,
                                Reply
                                1. R
                                  Ravishankar Balasubramanian
                                  May 5, 2017 at 11:01 am
                                  Good Move. Net the criminals.
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    Moore Larry
                                    May 5, 2017 at 10:02 am
                                    Greeting from Kokilaben Hospital We are urgently in need of kidney donors for the sum of $450,000,00, contact Dr Larry Moore Call or What-sup for more details: Call: 919555536375 WhatsApp : 918147120429
                                    Reply
                                    1. R
                                      rajat
                                      May 5, 2017 at 10:02 am
                                      from the article - "According to Army estimates, there are 100 active militants in south Kashmir," Only 100 militants in south kashmir ? And yet with half a million troops we have been unable to eliminate them ?
                                      Reply
                                      1. M
                                        Mohammad Dar
                                        May 5, 2017 at 10:24 am
                                        Excellence od hindu immoral hinduism hijra ism , best to entertain, not to fight, product of holy tradition of hinduism homo uality by faith, Such as hindu hijra Modi, deserter of his wife, for a man husband on the street.
                                        Reply
                                        1. M
                                          Michelle:Vedic:human
                                          May 5, 2017 at 11:04 am
                                          World should do humanity a favor, commit hindrance to truth f-lthY st-I-nkY half cut MULLASS, Di-ck will be better off, without a hog of ISLAM like POPAT Mohammed ra-Pi-st by birth as MUZZIE in Islam by faith, in SATAN form, Jai hind,,,
                                          1. C
                                            Che Mir
                                            May 5, 2017 at 11:23 am
                                            Dar Saheb - don't fall for propa a and misplaced freedom. Our freedom demand died the day in front of our own eyes Charar-e-Sharif was burnt. If India wanted it could have done what stan does in Pakhtunwa, but subsequent governments decided never to take that path. Our future does not lie with stan. They can never be our humrah, sooner we understand better it would be for our kids.
                                            1. M
                                              Michelle:Vedic:human
                                              May 5, 2017 at 11:29 am
                                              Excellence od muzzie immoral WAHABI Islamic hijramic,---- best to entertain, not to fight but in i AMMI-S BURQHA , product of un-holy tradition of Islamic homo uality by faith of Popat MO-HOMO-MAD rapist by birth, Such as HO-MO haj-ri Mo-HOMO-mad, deserter of his sons wife ZAIDA, a ra-pIst a PEDO who lured 6 yr old AISHA erupting from Arabian desert,----hindrance to truth,------Jai hind.
                                              1. G
                                                gk
                                                May 5, 2017 at 11:33 am
                                                better hang yourself for better India. Don't blame Hindus for your hooliganism at Kashmir. Betrayers
                                                1. K
                                                  kuki
                                                  May 5, 2017 at 11:48 am
                                                  Teri ma ko i katue.
                                              2. P
                                                Pinna
                                                May 5, 2017 at 9:45 am
                                                Attacking a security personnelis no less a serious crime. Since Government plays soft towards stone pelters, they take it easy. The detainee against whom concrete proof is there, should be released but not before he becomes incapable of walking again the rest of his life. It may sound harsh, but this is the perfect dose for the stone pelters. And if possible, give the treatment in full view of everyone so that others learn a lesson too. India, in the international fora, has become a joke where its personnel are dying everyday! What is the respect left for the army? Any ruffian gets up and start attacking them!!! Sri Lankan government took a decisive decision and finished the problem once for all. Its so peaceful over there now.
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                                                1. M
                                                  Mohammad Dar
                                                  May 5, 2017 at 10:27 am
                                                  They are not of the security but, hinds terrorist of hindu criminal iden y of hinduism terrorism by faith india, having every right . not just to pelt them with stones but, hunt them like a hindu rabid dog, to keep their holy land of Kashmir, free of hogs of hinduism racism by faith, in human form.
                                                  Reply
                                                2. R
                                                  RANA
                                                  May 5, 2017 at 9:38 am
                                                  islam is a cult of satanist....when mohammad propagated this satanic cult of a devil....god took his revenge by taking away all his sons away. In quran and hadith it mentions mohammad(peace do not be upon him may he burn in for making a deal with satan) used to froth from corner of his mouth like a rabies infested being and his jahil follwers used to think he is having divine intervention.
                                                  Reply
                                                  1. M
                                                    Mohammad Dar
                                                    May 5, 2017 at 9:45 am
                                                    hinduism absurdity of a child of hindrance to truth, hindu immoral holy tradition of hindism racism by faith, the hinduism in cest, established by the hindu ra pist of his baby sister Ra m, lord of children of hinduism inc est by faith, know the name of your real father, before spewing you hinduism Satan ism against Muslims and Islam.
                                                    Reply
                                                    1. B
                                                      bap of md dar
                                                      May 5, 2017 at 10:02 am
                                                      dekho mulla nawaj padhta h to apna bum piche utahata h aur kehta h koi nai dekh rha h allah aap piche se meri mar lo,phir ek bar idhar udhar dekhta h phir kehta h koi nai dekh rha h phir se mar lijie mere piche,is mulle ko bhi allah ne piche se mara h
                                                      1. R
                                                        rakesh joshi
                                                        May 5, 2017 at 10:29 am
                                                        you filthy swine
                                                        1. M
                                                          Mohammad Dar
                                                          May 5, 2017 at 10:49 am
                                                          hindu in human form.
                                                      2. K
                                                        kjingar
                                                        May 5, 2017 at 9:22 am
                                                        Cleanup the Kashmir. This is not the time to think about Human rights etc, but to protect the nation. Nothing less.
                                                        Reply
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