Bunkers, a State Task Force (STF), and a Special Operation Group (SOG) camp have once again been set in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district, over six years after the area in the Chenab Valley region was declared militancy-free by the police.
“We are re-establishing the SOG camp and are also reactivating the State Task Force in view of the increase in militancy,” said Kishtwar SSP Shakti Pathak.
The last counter-insurgency operation that took place in Kishtwar after the district was declared militancy-free was on December 23, 2012. In 2013, the SOG camp and bunkers were lifted out of Kishtwar town, and the STF had been disbanded and made part of police stations by the then Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led PDP-Congress state government as far back as 2003.
Sources have attributed the return of the STF, the SOG camp and bunkers to the failure of the police in apprehending the militants involved in the killing of RSS leader Chanderkant Sharma and his PSO Rajinder Kumar inside the government-run district hospital on April 9.
When asked whether the militants involved in Sharma’s and his PSO’s murder were locals or outsiders, SSP Pathak said, “Nothing conclusive has been found so far.” However, he said that the murders “could not have been done without local support”.
He added that once the confidential informant (CI) grid comes into being, contacts with old informers will also get revived. Though the Village Defence Committees are already in place, these need to be motivated, coordinated and integrated with the CI grid, he said.
The SSP said that for the first time, militants killed someone in town “not only during daylight and in full public view, but escaped as well”. “That is why we are, at the moment, not saying anybody is not involved, or is fully involved,” he said.
Pathak said Sharma was hit at a place where he was most vulnerable, adding that the hospital boundary wall is broken on all sides and the CCTV cameras there went out of order only few days before the murder.
Meanwhile, to check militants taking refuge in Kishtwar town, police have also started conducting a census and verification of tenants. This is being done “strictly” and for the first time in the state, “with Grid Reference (GR)”, including longitude and latitude, to ensure the mapping of the entire population of the town though Google, Pathak said. Once complete, this will make police and security agencies have all the details of a person with the click of a button, he said.
For this, the police teams have been provided with a fixed format to collect the details of all residents, including their name, age, parentage, the members in the family, their education qualification, the number of people employed or unemployed in the family, what kind of jobs they do and where, whether any person is a convict, history sheeter, or if any member is an active or surrendered militant, or an overground worker.
The format has been prepared on the basis of the ones used for collecting details of people living in major cities of the country, the SSP said.