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Explained: What a ‘militant-free’ Baramulla means

According to police, 18 militants were active in Baramulla at the beginning of 2018, 13 of whom were killed in encounters, and a few others were forced out of the district.

Written by Adil Akhzer | Srinagar |
Updated: January 25, 2019 8:25:58 am
jammu and kashmir, militants killed, baramulla, jammu and kashmir police, indian express news “…Baramulla has become first district of Kashmir with no surviving militant as on date.” (File/Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

After three militants were killed in an encounter in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district Wednesday, Jammu and Kashmir Police said Baramulla has become the first police district in the Valley that no longer has any militants. There are 13 police districts in Kashmir.

“…Baramulla has become first district of Kashmir with no surviving militant as on date. J-K Police extends its thanks to the local population for all their support in providing a better security environment in the district,” the police said in a statement.

“DGP J&K compliments the Police for their successes and expects further consolidation of peace building efforts together by police and public.”

Who is a militant in police records?

A militant is a person who has picked up a weapon and has joined a militant group fighting against the state. The district police categorise militants according to their involvement in militancy-related activities. The categories are A++, A+, A, B, and C. The killing of a militant in each category carries a different monetary reward and incentives.

When is a district deemed militant-free?

This happens when there is no militant listed as active in police records — as the police say has now happened in Baramulla district. “We don’t have any listed militant from the district at present. There is nobody in our record who is a militant either in our district, or any militant who belongs from Baramulla and is active in any other district,” Baramulla SSP Imtiyaz Hussain said. However, “that doesn’t mean that militants who are in the neighbouring town can’t come to this place. It is quite possible,” Hussain said.

How has Baramulla achieved this?

According to police, 18 militants were active in Baramulla at the beginning of 2018, 13 of whom were killed in encounters, and a few others were forced out of the district. “Our focus was to prevent people from joining militancy. In 2018, only one boy was recruited, and unfortunately he got killed. We dismantled the base of militant support and also worked hard to prevent people from joining militant ranks,” SSP Hussain said.

Which districts have the most militants?

According to security agencies, there are close to 300 active militants in the Valley at present. The four South Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag have the highest number of active militants. A large number, including many foreign militants, are active in North Kashmir as well.

What challenges do the police face now?

Indigenous militancy spiked after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in 2016. This is the first time since the beginning of the current phase of renewed militancy that the police have made a claim of freeing a district entirely of militants. Earlier in 2008, police had declared Kulgam militancy-free — that situation, however, did not last.

Baramulla is close to the Line of control (LoC), and neighbours the districts of Sopore, Handwara, Kupwara, Budgam and Bandipora, all of which have a significant presence of militants. In the town of Sopore, which is under Baramulla district (administrative), 10 local militants are currently active, as per police records. (This does not include foreign militants.) There is a possibility of militants from neighbouring areas moving to Baramulla.

The presence of overground workers (OGWs) and militant sympathisers who could help to recruit for militant outfits, also remains a challenge. The huge participation in the funerals of the three militants killed in Baramulla on Wednesday indicates significant support for militancy. “The bigger challenge for us is now onwards. The district will be under the direct target of militants,” Hussain said.

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