In less than two weeks, security forces on Wednesday conducted the second major cordon-and-search operation in Kashmir’s Shopian district but called it off after hours as no militant could be found but not before stone-pelting mobs hampered it. The search operation, in which a large number of security forces were involved, was launched in Heff village in the Zainapora area following information about presence of militants there, an Army official said. The operation, which started in the early hours, was hampered by local residents who pelted the forces with stones, a police official said.
The official said additional security force personnel were sent to the area to disperse the stone-pelters. No casualties were reported in stone-pelting, he said. The forces did not find any militant or hideouts and as a result, the operation was called off, the official said. The search operation was carried out two weeks after a similar but larger operation was undertaken in Shopian district which has witnessed a spurt in militant activities recently.
In the operation conducted on May 4, about 4,000 troops scanned two dozen villages of Shopian district for a day but could not find any militant. However, while the troops were returning on that day, militants attacked an Army patrol, resulting in the death of a taxi driver and injuries to several security personnel.
Six days after that operation, a young Kashmiri Army officer Lt Ummer Fayaz, who was on leave and unarmed, was abducted and shot dead by militants in the same district where he had gone to attend a family wedding. Major General B S Raju, General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Victor Force which is responsible for security in south Kashmir, had said on Saturday lat that more than 100 militants are active in that region.
“I am aware of the presence of the militants in the area (south Kashmir) and I must tell you that because of the high vegetation that is there, they are having slight amount of freedom but we are doing operations in a way to restrict their movement and subsequently neutralize them,” he had said. Operations in south Kashmir have been intensified in the wake of videos of large groups of militants — in some cases as many as 30 — surfacing on the social media, despite a ban imposed by authorities on 22 such sites and applications. Security agencies believed the videos had been shot in the south Kashmir area, mostly in the Shopian district.