Rising of OGWs in Kashmir worries security agencies

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Despite militants on run in Kashmir due to relentless operations by security forces, shocking revelations about the rising graph of over ground workers (OGWs) has forced the security agencies to work out a strategy to deal with the new challenge.

An official report of the Crime Wing of Jammu and Kashmir police has revealed that while on one hand, the number of active militants has gone down since 2017, the network of OGWs have shown a steep rise, raising another concern for the security grid.

According to the Crime Gazette, the annual report of the Crime department that works under the aegis of J&K police, the number of militants in Srinagar district is 11 while as the number of OGWs has reached 112. The report was released by the state police chief Dilbagh Singh recently in Srinagar.

The police categorise “anybody who supports the militants” as an OGW. A person providing a safe house, passage, information or acting as a messenger for suspected militants automatically comes under the radar of the police as an OGW.

As per the report, in Kupwara district of north Kashmir, there are nine active militants while the number of OGWs is 32. “In Handwara area of the district, there are 23 active militants and at the same time 496 OGWs,” the report reveals.

In south Kashmir’s Shopian district there are 39 active militants and 136 OGWs while in neighbouring Anantnag 23 active militants have the support of 130 OGWs, the report reveals. In Kulgam district the number of active militants is 29 and OGWs are 317. Similarly, Pulwama district has 36 active militants and 92 OGWs.

A senior police officer said after these shocking revelations the security grid has decided to work out a joint strategy to deal with the new challenge so that situation doesn’t go out of hands after so much of success achieved on the anti-militancy front since past one and half year.

“OGWs are militants without weapons and can be deadly than them as they manage travel and other logistics for the active militants. Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Toiba have a well-established network of OGWs which is sustaining militancy in Kashmir. Militants act on the advice and orders of their mentors and OGWs,” he said.

“If OGW networks are shattered, militants will be sitting ducks. OGWs have been lined up in such a manner that they help and guide the militants to our disadvantage. We want to take out the water from the pond. The fish will automatically not survive," he said.

Asked why the number of OGWs have increased, the officer said, “One of the major factors is that there is a dearth of weapons. The OGWs may resort to weapon snatching bids in coming months. In the coming days, joint strategy by police, army and the CRPF in collaboration with the intelligence agencies will be framed to deal with the growing network of OGWs.

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