Updated: May 4, 2017 6:43:15 pm
In a massive joint operation that began in the early hours of Thursday near Srinagar, the Army, police and CRPF swept Kashmir’s Shopian district to flush out hiding militants. The operation, considered the biggest in over a decade, targeted militants who have been attacking security forces in the Valley. Over 4,000 troops were deployed to comb several villages in the districts, while helicopters and drones circled the air. There are no casualties reported.
“We do not wish to have any civilian casualty and the measure was therefore required,” a senior army official told PTI. Villagers were made to assemble outside their houses, while door-to-door searches — a practice which was last reported in the late 1990s — were conducted.
The operation was largely peaceful except for a minor stone pelting incident at Turkawangan village, an official told PTI.
Following the operation, a ‘reverse sweep’ was conducted, in which the entire region was combed for the second time in the case the militants were undetected.
Meanwhile, Army Chief Bipin Rawat, who visited the Valley earlier this week, said the combing operation is to ensure the situation is ‘brought under control’, especially given that summer has begun. “Today’s combing operation is to make sure that situation is brought under control, post recent incidents,” he is quoted as saying by ANI. “Terrorists are going to attempt infiltration, snows are melting, summer months started so like each year infiltration will commence.”
“We are taking measures, have beefed up our counter infiltration posture to take care of the situation,” Rawat, who is currently in New Delhi told ANI.
Thursday’s operation comes in the wake of multiple attacks against security forces this week. Since Monday, four banks have been targeted by militants, and several lakhs of rupees stolen. On Monday, May 2, seven personnel were killed and their riffles stolen after members of the militant outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen, attacked a van of Jammu and Kashmir Bank. On Tuesday, May 3, unidentified gunmen looted Rs 65,000 after attacking a branch of the Ellaquai Dehati Bank in Kulgam district. Yesterday, in two separate attacks, the Ellaquai Dehati Bank branch in Waibug and a Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch in Nehama were looted.
(With inputs from agencies)
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