‘Crackdown’ stages a comeback in south Kashmir villages

SRINAGAR: During the past one month, army and the police have been conducting day-long “crackdown” search operations and intensified patrolling in a few south Kashmir villages.
Local residents said the operations started a few days before Ramadan from Mohammadpora, a village in Kulgam district.
On June 26, 27, 29 and 30, the army conducted daylong searches in Arreh, Chaktsolan, Mohammadpora and Hadigam villages of south Kashmir.
“The crackdown either is done between 5am and 1pm or 4pm and 8pm. During this time we miss our prayers and can’t break our fast as well,” said Ashiq (name changed), a resident of Arreh.
The “crackdown” is one of the most remembered methods used by the armed forces ostensibly to search for militants and their sympathisers but widely perceived as a “collective punishment” for a population that has been supporting the popular insurgency, both its political and armed aspects.
It was widely used during the 90s. The entire adult male population is collected at some open place while the females stay home. The houses are then searched one by one. Previously, men would be paraded before a masked informer sitting inside a vehicle.
“They way they have been conducting these operations makes us apprehensive that they are up to something evil,” said a local resident, wishing anonymity for fear of reprisals.
At the same time, the army has intensified night patrolling.
“It seems to be the return of the 1990 when the onset of darkness meant that people had to stay indoors,” said Fayaz, a resident of Mohammadpora.
Deputy inspector general of police (south Kashmir) Nitish Kumar said that surge in militant activities have necessitated frequent crackdowns and intensified patrolling.
“It is our routine to intensify vigil in areas where we sense there is a surge in militancy related activities. In these villages militants have become active,” Nitish told Kashmir Reader.