Renewed militancy busts security myths

After years of relative calm, it seems that militancy has resurfaced in the Valley with aplomb. Wednesday’s attack on the CRPF camp is not a one-off incident, but comes close on the heels of successive attacks, particularly in the Sopore and Kupwara areas of north Kashmir, which have once again emerged as the hub of militant activities.

A senior police officer told Deccan Herald that militants seem to have regained ground and are striking at will. “They have also succeeded in creating an impression of being all over the land. By launching a suicide attack in the heart of the city, they’ve broken a great psychological barrier. Suddenly, in a throwback to the heydays of militancy, nothing seems to be out of bounds for them,” he said.

This resurgence has busted the assiduously crafted security myth in the Valley. The security establishment in the state, which had embarked on a chest-thumping exercise to claim credit for “almost” weeding out militancy from the Valley in the past few years, seems to have taken a blow.

After the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru last month, several banned militant groups in Islamabad like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, had reportedly vowed to avenge the execution and step up the “jihad” in Jammu and Kashmir.

Security agencies are on the tenterhooks since the latest attack can be the first in a series of assaults. “We are trying to establish whether the latest attack has any link with Afzal’s hanging. It is difficult to comment at the moment. But that angle can’t be ruled out,” a senior police officer said.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah arrived here from Jammu on Wednesday and reviewed the security and law and order situation in the Valley.
Sources said the top brass of the Army, paramilitary forces, state police and civil administration attended a meeting.

“The chief minister was briefed by the officers concerned about the measures put in place to maintain clam and peace in the Valley,” they added.

Ghosts from the past

As guns thundered and grenades were hurled, smoke blanketed the Bemina area, around 3 km from the city centre Laal Chowk. Shopkeepers downed the shutters and people ran helter-skelter for cover.

“I was walking across the road when I heard a loud explosion at about 10:45 am. After gathering my breath, I looked up and saw smoke emanating from a nearby CRPF camp. Paramilitary personnel were rushing here and there shouting for help,” Rouf Malik, an eyewitness, told Deccan Herald.

“I saw some young boys in cricket uniforms running for safety.”

Thanks to the strike call by separatists, the area was not crowded.  Some young boys were playing cricket in the Police Public School ground.

Another witness Imran said as the CRPF and police personnel tried to cordon off the area, the militants resorted to indiscriminate firing and hurled grenades.

“It reminded me of the early 90s when such incidents were a routine. God knows what will happen to Kashmir now,” he said.

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