Security forces have gunned down 89 militants in the Valley so far in this year. Among those killed are top leaders of four militant outfits, including Hizbul Mujahideen operations chief Riyaz Naikoo.
According to official data, more than half of the militants killed since January 1 were affiliated to Hizbul and most slain militants were local residents, The Indian Express has learnt.
“From January, the number of anti-militancy operations picked up with new strategies i.e focusing more on humint besides techint, maintaining maximum surprises while laying cordon of target houses and avoiding collateral damage. We have been successful in targeting the militant leadership of all main outfits in the previous months which have caused a huge setback to them… on the ground, the recruitment has gone down as compared to the first six months last year,” IGP (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar told The Indian Express.
The militant commanders killed in encounters this year include, besides Naikoo, Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Haider from Pakistan, Qari Yasir, commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Burhan Koka who led Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind — an al-Qaeda “affiliate” in Kashmir.
As compared to 89 militants killed in the first half of this year, 29 were killed between July and December 2019, records show.
“After abrogation of the special status last year, our human and technical intelligence grid suffered because of the communication lockdown and till the year-end, the number of militants killed was not much. But, from January, the grid was activated again and operations launched at a massive level. The results are in front of everyone,” said a south Kashmir-based police officer.
Out of the 89 militants killed, the highest number were killed in April (28), when the Valley was under lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
CRPF’s Special DG (J&K Zone) Zulfiquar Hasan said anti-militancy operations continued even amid the pandemic.
As per the records, 46 out of the 89 militants killed were affiliated to Hizbul, which also has the maximum number of active militants in the Valley.
“There is no doubt that we have been successful in killing the (militant) leadership during the last few months and we have got huge successes. But the job is continuous. We still have more than 100 active militants in South Kashmir alone,” said another officer in south Kashmir associated with anti-militancy operations.
Security forces, too, have suffered casualties in the last few months. In May, a decorated commanding officer of a Counter Insurgency battalion of the Army, a Major and a J&K Police Officer were among the five security personnel killed in a gunfight in north Kashmir’s Handwara. A day later, in the same district, three CRPF men were killed after militants attacked a CRPF party.
Officials said recruitment by militants has also seen a dip — from January to May 2019, 85 people joined militancy; this year, the number for the same period is 39.
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