A top Army officer on Sunday said security forces have killed 190 militants, most of them foreign, so far this year in Kashmir and that there are around 200 more active in the valley currently.
General Officer Commanding (GoC), Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, Lt Gen J S Sandhu was speaking at a joint press conference in Srinagar. “This year we have had a number of successful operations in Kashmir region. We have killed about 190 terrorists as of date in 2017,” the Army commander told reporters in Srinagar. “Out of these 190, 80 terrorists are local and the remaining 110 were foreign terrorists,” he said.
DGP S P Vaid, IGP Munir Khan, General Officer Commanding (GoC) Victor Force, Maj Gen B S Raju and IG CRPF (Operations) Zulfiquar Hasan were also present at the conference. Lt Gen Sandhu said out of the 110 foreign terrorists, 66 were killed near the Line of Control (LoC) while infiltrating. “So, this year, we have killed about 125-130 terrorists in the hinterland of Kashmir. This has resulted in a remarkable change in the situation,” he said.
Sandhu said people were aware of the extent to which the agitation in earlier part of this year was brought under control. He said about 200 militants were currently active in Kashmir. “It is very difficult to give an exact figure and the variation of figure continues because it changes from day to day. But, we know that it is around 200. The assessment of local terrorists is around 110-120. Similarly, the foreigners are about 100,” he said.
Referring to yesterday’s operation at Hajin in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, in which six Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed, Lt Gen Sandhu said Hajin was an area of focus for the security forces. “Hajin was an area of focus for us. In the early part of the year, we had an operation where we eliminated a number of terrorists in Hajin. Subsequently, the terrorists revived. They resorted to some atrocities,” he said.
As a strategy, several operations were launched in Hajin mid-September onwards and they were launching search operations practically on a daily basis, Lt Gen Sandhu said. “We inducted special forces into the area and in addition along with the intelligence network and police and the CRPF, the law and order in Hajin was brought under control,” he said.
The security forces were keeping a watch on the Chandergeer area where the encounter took place, he said. “We were keeping a watch over the last two-three days and yesterday, based upon a specific input, the joint operation was launched in which the terrorists were eliminated. These six were all foreign terrorists led by Mehmood Bhai and comprised bulk of the Hajin group,” the army commander said.
“I want to highlight that the Hajin group has largely been decimated. One of the persons who was killed is Osama Jangi or Obaid. He is reportedly the nephew of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and possibly the son of Abdur Rehman Maki–the Lashkar number two,” he said. He complimented all the agencies involved in the operations in the valley for the successes. “We look forward to continue the operations and hope to restore peace in the valley as soon as possible,” he said.
Addressing the media, IG CRPF said the militants killed yesterday belonged to the same group that had attacked CRPF commandant Chetan Cheetah in Bandipora on February 14. Cheetah was injured in the attack and had slipped into coma.