Following the killing of three civilians from outside J&K by militants in South Kashmir, the state police have asked transporters not to venture into interiors of the area.
Director General, Jammu and Kashmir Police, Dilbag Singh told The Indian Express that traders in Shopian have been advised to use smaller vehicles for transportation of apples from interiors of the district and bring the produce to six pick-up points “secured and identified” on the main roads.
“We have increased security presence at these six points and urged transporters not to take trucks from outside (the state) into the interiors. We have also picked up at least 12 people from the OGW network (overground workers of militant outfits) in connection with these killings,” the DGP said.
While a truck driver from Rajasthan was killed in the Valley on Monday, a migrant labourer from Chhattisgarh was gunned down in Pulwama and a fruit loader from Punjab was shot in Shopian in multiple militant attacks on Wednesday.
Singh said, “Militants resorted to threatening letters, beatings and intimidation ahead of the apple season. However, people have trade linkages in many other parts of the country, and despite all this intimidation trade carried on. So now militants are resorting to other options.”
He said that the militants involved in the killing in Shopian were identified as Salman Afghani (LeT), Rahil Magray and Naveed Babu affiliated to Hizbul Mujahideen.
Admitting that “there is some amount of fear” in the area, Singh said, “People are resisting these incidents. On Monday, they managed to rescue the conductor of the truck that was set on fire, but the driver, Sharif Khan, could not be saved.”
Singh, Inspector General J&K Police S P Pani and other senior officers of the force toured South Kashmir on Thursday.
Fruit from this region is transported to Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi and Rajasthan.
Before the recent incidents in South Kashmir, four people, including a minor engaged in the apple business in Sopore, were shot at and injured by alleged militants in Sopore.
On ensuring that the apple season continues as expected in the area, Singh said, “Police presence is reassuring and we have travelled through the district and seen such presence in all collection centres and the main market. We have assured people of further security measures.”