Army uses winter offensive against militants in Kashmir

Army uses winter offensive against militants in Kashmir


In November, 37 militants, mostly belonging to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) were killed by the security forces. File photo

With the number of infiltration from across the Line-of-Control (LoC) coming down, security forces have launched a major coordinated winter offensive against militants in Kashmir.

In November alone, 37 militants— the highest number of militant causalities this year— were killed by security forces.

Most of these ultras belonged to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

Overall in the first 11 months of the year, 227 militants, which included nine top commanders like LeT's Naveed Jatt, were neutralised by security forces.

The number stood at 217 last year.

The Hizbul, which draws its cadre mostly from the Kashmir Valley, and the LeT, whose cadres are Pakistanis as well as locals, have been dealt with a serious blow by the security forces this year.

Most of the senior commanders of the two militant outfits have been killed and only a handful of top commanders remain, these include Hizbul operational commander, Riyaz Naikoo, Al Badr commander; Zeenat-ul Islam, who was earlier with Hizbul and now has shifted to Al Badr; Lateef Tiger, an associate of Burhan Wani; and Zakir Musa, the chief of Ansar-ul-Gazwat-ul-Hind.

“A new plan has been made whereby security agencies will try to eliminate as many militants as possible, who are active in the Valley before the onset of spring when infiltration routes open up after the snow starts to melt. Besides killing militants, the other target of security agencies are those who help in recruitment and finances to militant organisations,” sources said.

The relentless anti-militancy operations have also, as of now, put a brake on the continuous trend of local youths joining militancy in Kashmir, especially from the southern districts of Kulgam, Shopian, Pulwama and Anantnag.

A senior police officer said that the other focus of the anti-militancy strategy was to thwart infiltration attempts along the LoC.

“Though the infiltration from across the LoC into Kashmir was down to a trickle as compared to figures of earlier years, Pakistan would try to send as many militants as possible to Kashmir to keep the morale of ultras high,” he said.

“The nearly 350-km-long LoC in Kashmir has many porous infiltration avenues which are close to launch pads across the fence. Even if the LoC is buried deep under snow the infiltration never seizes,” he said and added that there were 16-18 active launching pads across the LoC from where the militants might try to infiltrate during winter.

The fresh offensive against militants has coincided with the conclusion of municipal elections and the ongoing Panchayat polls in the state.

Dilbag Singh, J&K’s director general of police, claims the graph of militancy, especially in south Kashmir, has come down and fresh recruitment has also declined.

“The number of militants at present is hovering around 250,” he said.