SRINAGAR: As the ground situation in Kashmir continues to slip out of the grip of government forces, the counter-insurgency establishment is apprehensive of a possible escalation in offensives by militants. Bank robberies and attacks on government forces in south Kashmir also forced the Election Commission to cancel by-elections for the Anantnag parliamentary constituency.
Sources said that security agencies had been tasked to take stock of the situation for the by-polls. “It would have required a lot more of police and paramilitary forces than Srinagar to secure the area completely, especially in view of the hostile situation,” an official told Kashmir Reader. The deferment of elections came as a breather to the government forces.
Army sources said that south Kashmir has the highest number of home grown militants. They say that around a hundred Hizbul Mujahideen militants are operating in the area and at least 12 non-local militants are believed to be with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), lead by “wanted” militant commander Abu Dujana. At least 2 militants have joined Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen (TuM) outfit, sources said, adding that attempts were being made to revive the outfit. Nearly five new recruits, including the two from TuM outfit, are from Srinagar city.
Since January, scores of militant related incidents – rifle snatching, bank robberies and attacks on families of police personnel – have taken place in Kashmir, especially concentrated in the south Kashmir area. Over the last three days, suspected militant decamped with nine rifles. On Wednesday, two banks were raided in Pulwama by suspected militants. A day before, in an attack claimed by militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, five policemen and two security guards were killed after a cash-van was ambushed in Kulgam area.
The attacks, officials believe, comes in view of the militant outfits’ desperate ‘requirement’ for arms and money. An army officer said that the militants were facing financial crunch despite their claims of having enough funds. “It is clear they are always in need for money,” he said, adding that the attacks indicate “criminals and fugitives” were also joining the militant ranks as the incidents of cash robbery surged.
The incidents, according to the official source, signify that militant organisations have the capacity to strike and keep them in news. “On a good day, they get their hands on the weapons as well,” he said.
Hizbul Mujahideen has denied bank robberies many times in the past. However, the militant outfit took responsibility of the recent ones, especially the attack on a cash van which killed five policemen and two bank security guards. The incidents of robbing cash indicate a shift in tactics where armed militants have begun to snatch rifles. Earlier, youth willing to join militant ranks would snatch a rifle to join the organisation. Official sources see this as an evidence of growing strength of militant outfits, especially the Hizbul Mujahideen.