Ramban/Jammu, September 28: An exchange of fire took place between the Army and two suspected militants in a village along the Jammu-Kishtwar national highway on Saturday, following which a massive search operation was launched in the area, officials said.
The militants fired at the quick reaction team of the Army after a driver of a civilian vehicle informed the force about the presence of two suspicious individuals on the highway in Batote of Ramban district, leading to a brief exchange of fire, they said.
“Today (Saturday) morning at about 7.30 am, two suspicious individuals tried to stop a civilian vehicle at the general area Batote on the highway. The driver was alert, did not stop the vehicle and rushed and informed the nearest Army post,” an Army official said.
“The quick reaction team reacted promptly and contact was established with the suspicious individuals. An exchange of fire took place and further details are awaited,” he added.
The officials said the militants hurled a grenade and followed it by firing soon after noticing the quick reaction team of the Army at Dharmund village.
Reinforcements from the Army and police have rushed to the spot and the whole area has been cordoned off to neutralise the suspected militants who tried to flee after the initial exchange of firing, they said.
There was no immediate report of any casualty in the incident, the officials added.
The search operation is on and there was no fresh exchange of firing between the militants and the security forces, they said.
The movement of the traffic on the highway was stopped following the incident as a precautionary measure, the officials said.
Three Kashmiri politicians released from detention
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday released three politicians who were under detention since August 5 when the Centre abrogated the special status granted to the state under the Constitution, officials said.
Yawar Mir, Noor Mohammed and Shoiab Lone were released on various grounds, the officials said, explaining the reasons for ending their detention.
While Mir is a former PDA MLA from the Rafiabad Assembly seat, Lone contested unsuccessfully on a Congress ticket from north Kashmir and later resigned as district president of the party.
Noor Mohammed is a National Conference worker who has been managing the party’s show in the militancy-infested Batmaloo area of the Srinagar city.
Before his release, he will be signing a bond to maintain peace and good behaviour, the officials said on Wednesday night.
The administration had earlier released Imran Ansari of the People’s Conference and Syed Akhoon on the grounds of health on September 21.
More than a thousand people, including politicians, separatists, activists and lawyers, were detained after the August 5 move of the central government to abrogate the state’s special status.
The detainees include three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
Over 250 people were sent to the jails outside Jammu and Kashmir.
Farooq Abdullah was subsequently detained under the stringent Public Safety Act, while other politicians were mostly detained under different sections of the criminal procedure code.
JK Admin withdraws security advisory for tourists
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday withdrawn the security advisory for tourists visiting the valley state. The administration also assured tourists of providing all kinds of assistance and logistic support.
“Security advisory requesting tourists visiting J&K to curtail their stay in the Kashmir valley, is hereby withdrawn. Tourists desirous of undertaking visiting to the state shall be provided all necessary assistance & logistical support,” it said in a statement.
The move comes two days after Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik asked for lifting of the two-month-old advisory which had asked tourists to leave the valley.
The governor had directed officials to withdraw the advisory with effect from October 10. The advisory was issued on August 2, days before Article 370 was revoked.
JK Congress to boycott BDC polls
The Congress on Wednesday decided to boycott the Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir, citing “indifferent” attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders.
The BDC polls is scheduled to be held in Jammu and Kashmir on October 24. These will be the first elections to be held in the state since its special status was revoked under Article 370 on August 5.
“The Congress believes in strengthening of democratic institutions and never shied away from any polls. But today, we are compelled to take a decision to boycott BDC polls due to indifferent attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders in the valley,” state Congress president G.A. Mir told reporters in Jammu.
Mir, who was himself under house arrest in Jammu and was recently released, charged that the state administration deliberately created hurdles for mainstream parties in order to facilitate the win of the ruling BJP.
“They have kept leaders and cadres under detention and did not allow the political atmosphere and political activity to take place and the Congress was deliberately targeted in this exercise,” the PCC leader charged.
Despite expressing its reservation on the timing of the polls and ongoing security situation, the Congress along with the National Panthers party had last week decided to take part in the BDC elections.
Mir said the Congress had approached the State Election Commission to facilitate smooth movement of its leaders after deciding to take part in the exercise.
“We had issued letters to candidates for taking part in BDC polls so that we could contribute to the democratic exercise and some of our candidates also filed their nominations,” he said.
However, since today was the last day for filing of nomination papers by candidates, “we have decided to stay away from polls which should have been deferred taking into consideration the prevailing situation in the state as was demanded by all opposition political parties.”
Mainstream political leaders in the valley, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest since the government announced dilution of provisions of Article 370 over two months ago.
The state administration said last week that political leaders under house arrest in Kashmir will be released in a phased manner after proper analysis of every individual.