Announcing that a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militant involved in a recent attack on a fruit merchant’s home in Sopore was gunned down in an encounter, Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh said Wednesday that there were “many reports” of cross-border infiltration which police were trying to verify.
“Yes, there have been many reports of infiltration being attempted in certain areas, Rajouri and Poonch they tried, Gurez they tried, Karnah and Keran they tried, Gulmarg sector they tried… there are reports … there is no denying the fact… and we are trying to confirm them,” Singh said at a press conference in Srinagar.
“But with the kind of activity across the Line of Control or IB (International Border), where a largescale build-up is seen, largescale militants are brought to the launching pads, certainly those kinds of attempts are
Incidentally, Lt Gen K J S Dhillon, GOC 15 Corps, had said on September 4 that more than 350 operations were launched in the Gulmarg sector in the preceding 20 days. He also confirmed the arrest of two Pakistani nationals affiliated with Lashkar.
“There are more than 350 operations, which have been launched around Gulmarg (sector) including some specific information searches inside Gulmarg town,” Lt Gen Dhillon had said. “Otherwise as you are aware Gulmarg has been terrorism free area because of tourism and other things.”
In the press conference Wednesday, DGP Singh said a Lashkar militant Asif Maqbool, a resident of Baramulla, was gunned down in a firefight. Maqbool was among three militants who fired at fruit growers last week, injuring four people including a five-year-old girl.
“Today morning on specific information, the police and the SF (security forces) laid a naka close to Sopore town and while a fellow came, he was challenged to stop, he didn’t. He threw a grenade on the party injuring a couple of our policemen who are out of danger. In the ensuing encounter that militant (Asif) has been neutralized…This person was very active in the Sopore belt and with his killing…I believe that area will heave a sigh of relief,” said Singh.
The DGP also said that a teenager, who was injured in clashes with security forces last month, had died at a Srinagar hospital. “We from the police and the forces side tried to exercise a lot of restraint and very minimal use of force has been exercised, wherever required,” he said. “That is why casualties, on the civilian side, are absolutely nil barring an incident in which a stone pelter got injured in downtown and he subsequently succumbed to the injuries”.
Asrar Firdous Khan (18) was injured on August 6 during a protest at 90-feet area of Soura neighbourhood in Srinagar. After battling for life in the ICU at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), he succumbed on September 4.
He said that several others were injured in stone-pelting incidents in the Valley. “… We have incidents where stone pelters caused injuries to civilians and caused a civilian death in Bijbejhara, where a truck driver got injured in stone pelting and subsequently succumbed to his injuries,” he said. “We have also an incident where five civilians were injured in stone pelting…which is very unfortunate.”
To a question on curbs in the Valley, Singh said they “are very close to normalcy”. “.in this region also gradually, we have tried to ease out the restrictions, whichever kind of restrictions were imposed. Today more than 90 per cent area is free of restrictions, you got 100 per cent telephone exchanges working now. We are considering more such relaxations since people have been very cooperative,” he said.
Asked about restoring mobile services, the DGP said it is “all related to improvement in situation” and they are “considering relaxing of voice calls”. “Voice calls gradually were restored in the Jammu region, they were restored in two districts of this area.we are considering relaxing voice calls at least, easing our restrictions on voice calls, subsequently we will see to what extent we can go without comprising on maintenance of law and order,” he said.
To another question about reports of security forces forcing fruit associations to keep mandis open during day, Singh said that “no one is allowed to force anyone and no one is interested to force anyone”.
“We are only the facilitators and our job is to ensure that if they want to do business, they are able to do so without the sense of fear. Militants on behalf of Pakistan are threatening and asked fruit mandis not to operate,” he said.
“Our job is to see that they (fruit growers) are not harassed. We will continue to do that. But our job is not to force or tell people what to do and what not to do and how to do, but certainly, we are there to make security arrangements for them and also take care of the problems they face. According to Singh, in one South Kashmir district, “230 truckloads of fruit have gone over the last couple of days”.