Jammu, May 20: Top Army commander, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command Monday said even though the local militant recruitment has shown a significant decline, “the issue of local boys joining militancy remains a matter of concern.”
“Local recruitment remains a matter of concern for all of us. Last year, we had 217 local youth who had picked up militancy. This year, the number has significantly reduced and as on date there are only 40 youth who have picked up arms,” Lieutenant General Singh said while addressing the media in Udhampur.
Out of 40, six were killed in various encounters in South and North Kashmir while as three had returned. The Army had claimed that its appeal to Kashmiri mothers was proving a success as youth who had picked up arms were returning back to the mainstream.
According to the figures available with the KNO, in 2017, the number of youth who had picked up arms in J&K was around 240 that reduced to 2017 in 2018. In 2016, the number was around 200, as per the official figures.
The Army commander said that one of the key reasons for locals picking up gun was the “radicalization and exploitation of social media by Pakistani agencies.” The army commander said that Pakistan was feeling “starved” due to a very effective counter infiltration grid of the Indian Army.
It is pertinent to mention that only 40 youth joining militancy this summer so far in Jammu and Kashmir is lowest ever since 2016. However, officials assert that they won’t take a chance and will ensure local militant recruitment remains plugged in remaining months of the year especially the summer months when infiltration is expected to pick up due to melting of snow. According to officials, no foreign militant was killed on the LoC this year so far.
‘VDCs useful, need to energise them’
Press Trust of India
Udhampur, May 20: The Army Monday batted strongly for “energising” village defence committees (VDCs) in Jammu and Kashmir calling them a “useful instrument” for the state.
The VDCs were setup in the mid-1990s with an aim to strengthen the security of those living in remote and mountainous areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramba, Rajouri, Reasi, Kathua and Poonch districts of the region.
A total of 4,125 VDCs exist in the state. “VDCs are most useful instrument available with the state”, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GoC-In-C), Northern Command, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh told reporters here.
“They (VDCs) are always to be energised and they shall be able to take on responsibility (of securing the villages in remote and hilly areas) tasked to them,” he added. The Army commander said that it must be ensured that the volunteers are provided weapons so that they can “defend their villages and pass information to the security forces regarding movement and presence of militants.”
“All have to play a role to ensure peace and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. Notably, the Army has reached out to VDCs in various districts to strengthen the security apparatus of the population of rural and remote areas in Jammu region.
Militant, Army officer killed in Anantnag gunfight
Srinagar, Jun 17: An Army officer and a militant were killed and three other soldiers including a Major injured in a gunfight in south Kashmir Anantnag district on Monday, police said.
Police sources said the officer was shot at during the firing exchange between the holed-up militants and security forces in Bidoora village in Achabal area of the district.
The slain militant was believed to be a foreigner.
SSP Anantnag, Altaf Khan said that the operation was launched following specific inputs about the presence of some militants in the area.
He said that as the joint team intensified the searches, the militants, hiding in the area, opened fire which was retaliated, triggering off a gunfight.
Initially, sources said, the joint team of forces and militants exchanged gunfire for some time during which the house, in which the militants were hiding, was damaged. Later there was a lull for about an hour even as Army rushed more reinforcements and the joint team started searches to find out the militants.
Soon the militants rose from the debris and opened indiscriminate fire on the forces, resulting in the on-spot death of Major Keetan Sharma and injuries to three others including another Army Major Rahul Verma, sources said.
They added the joint team of forces retailed the fire, leading to the fresh gunfight in an open field. While one militant was killed and the search operation is underway to find if there is any more militant hiding in the area.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain militant is being ascertained, sources said.
Meanwhile, youth took to streets and pelted stones at the security forces. The police and paramilitary CRPF deployed in the area used tear smoke shells and pellets to disperse them.
In wake of the operation, the authorities snapped internet service in the southern district.
IED blast in Pulwama, 6 soldiers, 2 civilians injured
Srinagar, Jun 17: Militants on Monday attempted to blow off an Army vehicle in a village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
A police official said that an armoured vehicle of Army came under an IED attack in Hargam Arihal village of Pulwama. He added that after the blast militants also fired some gunshots towards the vehicle.
Local residents informed that they heard huge blast followed by gunshots.
Reports said that six soldiers and two civilians were injured in the blast. The soldiers were shifted to Army’s 92 base hospital at Badamibagh, Srinagar for treatment.
The area was soon cordoned off, officials said.
Earlier, reports said that militants exploded an IED under a Casper vehicle, extensively damaging it, as an army convoy passed through Arihal. However, the army clarified that the damaged vehicle was not a Casper, but an Ashok Leyland Stallion truck.
Three of them who were travelling in the cabin of the vehicle are stated to be serious, the news agency reported.
The blast was triggered by militants using a car laden with explosives, GNS reported attributing the same to “initial investigations by police.”
“A police officer that the explosives were fitted inside a car and investigators are probing the owner of the vehicle. Asked, which type of vehicle was used, the officer said that it is a matter of investigation,” the news agency reported.
“Samples have been collected and further probe is underway,” the officer was quoted saying.
In a statement, the Army called the attack a “failed attempt” by militants. The troops are safe, barring a few minor injuries, it said, adding, “The area has been cordoned and search operations are in progress”.
The blast comes days after Pakistan had reportedly shared information with India and America regarding the possibility of major militant attack in the south Kashmir district. (With inputs from GNS)
Emotional scenes at slain SHO’s wreath-laying ceremony
Srinagar, Jun 17: Emotional scenes were Monday witnessed at District Police Lines (DPL) Srinagar as top cops and bureaucrats attended the wreath-laying ceremony of the slain police officer Arshad Khan, who had sustained critical injuries in a militant attack in Anantnag last week and later succumbed to his injuries at AIIMS, Delhi on Sunday.
J&K Police chief Dilbagh Singh, Advisors to Governor K Vijay Kumar and KK Sharma, Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmed Khan, ADGP Muneer Khan, and SSP Srinagar Dr Haseeb Mughal, among other civil and police officers were present on the occasion.
J&K Police shared two heart wrenching photos of Dr Mughal carrying the deceased’s son in his arms during the wreath-laying ceremony.
In the photos, a teary-eyed Haseeb is seen carrying slain Arshad Khan’s son while paying tributes to his colleague.
On the occasion, Advisor Kumar said that more than 1600 J&K Police personnel have lost their lives in the line of duty.
On June 12, around 4:50 pm, five paramilitary troopers and a militant were killed and four other security forces personnel including Arshad sustained injuries after militants attacked a joint party of CRPF and police at bus stand Anantnag.
Arshad was immediately evacuated to a nearby hospital and then to Srinagar’ SK Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura. After being treated there for a few days, he was flown to Delhi’s AIIMS hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
According to police, Arshad was inducted into police services in the year 2002 and was presently posted as SHO Anantnag. Khan is survived by father and mother, wife Neelofar, 5-year-old son Abuhan Khan, Danim 2, and a brother.
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