The attack on a village sarpanch and the killing of a retired DSP in south Kashmir has set alarm bells ringing in the security establishment, especially as the incidents come amid reports of more than 30 local youths from the region joining militant ranks in the last few months.
On Wednesday, two bike-borne youths shot at retired DSP Bashir Ahmad Dar near a mosque at Ashmjee village in Kulgam. Dar was rushed to a Srinagar hospital where he succumbed.
The attack on Dar, who retired from service three years ago, came hours after alleged militants shot and injured Mohammad Yaqoob Malla, sarpanch of Pahalpora village in the neighboring Shopian town. He, too, was shifted to a Srinagar hospital, where doctors have declared his condition “serious”.
A senior policeman said these attacks were carried out by local militants, who had joined militant ranks only recently.
For security forces, the alarm bells were set off first by pictures of local boys in army fatigues surfacing on social media. Later, an 80-second video of the same gathering, held inside an apple orchard in south Kashmir last month, also surfaced.
Though police identified those in the pictures, they have been unable to track them, especially, Burhan Wani — Divisional Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen in south Kashmir.
Officials said Wani is behind circulation of these pictures and videos. He is also suspected to be the main recruiting commander in the area.
Officials claim that Army and police came close to apprehending these men in the past few weeks, but they slipped away after opening fire on patrols.