Amid heightened security ahead of Republic Day, a series of grenade explosions were reported in the Kashmir Valley in 24 hours, with two explosions in Srinagar and one in Shopian.
In Srinagar, the first explosion occurred at Zero Bridge on Thursday, injuring three state police officials, including two traffic policemen. On Friday, a grenade was thrown near the clock tower in Lal Chowk; no casualties were reported.
Another grenade explosion was reported at Gagren Camp in Shopian on Friday, formerly a J&K Police Special Operation’s Group base, that now houses the Additional SP’s office.
In a statement to local news agencies, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the three attacks.
The latest grenade attacks in Srinagar come after three grenade explosions took place in the state’s summer capital within three hours on June 2 last year. The last major attack at Lal Chowk – which is the centre of Srinagar – happened in November 2014, when a grenade explosion near Palladium Cinema left eight persons, including a CRPF sub-inspector, injured.
The attacks in June, for which the JeM had claimed responsibility, had resulted in injuries to four CRPF personnel and two civilians. However, police had claimed that the people responsible for the attacks last year were later arrested.
J&K Additional DGP (Security) Muneer Khan called the latest attacks “an attempt by militants to show their presence in the city” and said that the police is being extra vigilant in dealing with the attacks ahead of Republic Day. “They will be dealt with effectively,” Khan said.
The three explosions have been aimed at security units in the city, including the clock tower area, where a CRPF mobile bunker remains stationed.
Civil society groups have in the past raised concern over placement of bunkers in areas with sizeable presence of civilians.
More than a dozen grenade attacks were reported from different parts of the Valley in 2018, particularly South Kashmir, injuring members of the security forces and civilians.
Human rights’ activist Khurram Parvez told The Indian Express, “By deploying units in civilian areas, the Armed forces create a human shield situation, but militants should still not carry out attacks in areas where there is possibility of civilian casualties.”
However, police officials claim that militants resort to measures such as grenade explosions since it is “low-cost warfare and causes requisite chaos” in the area.
According to police, more 256 militants were killed in the Valley last year and recruitment to militant ranks in the last two months is down to one.
A senior police official said that grenade attacks “do not necessarily translate to militant presence in the city since grenades are lobbed by low-level members of an outfit.”