SRINAGAR: During an encounter, militants in north Kashmir prefer to flee from the house in which they have been trapped instead of fighting the troops from within, because they don’t want harm to come to the person who provided them shelter, top army sources told Kashmir Reader.
In south Kashmir, where local militants are most active, they are still being trapped within houses. Army sources said that most of the trapped militants are locals who are not properly trained.
“Foreign militants are equipped with sophisticated weapons. They are well trained and have different types of motivation. Local militants neither have adequate arms nor are well trained. Their motivation is also different, which is why they are unable to copy the foreign militants,” army officers said.
The army sources said that militants in north Kashmir have adopted the strategy of fleeing the house since the past one month.
“Earlier, militants used to give us a pitched fight from inside the houses, but now they attempt to flee before they are trapped,” military officers told Reader. “Probably militants have realised that the household that has given them shelter should not be harmed. They also want to escape alive, rather than immediately fight the troops that have surrounded them.”
Army sources cited examples of this tactic in the recent Bandipora encounters. On January 19, a militant identified as Abu Musa, district commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit, was killed in an encounter in Hajin area of Bandipora, while other trapped militants managed to escape.
In another encounter in Hajin area of Bandipora this Tuesday, two foreign militants attempted to flee from the house they were hiding in when government forces laid their cordon. However, one militant was killed. Three soldiers were also killed in the gunfight.
“There were no pitched battles in both the encounters. The militants were killed outside the house while fleeing,” the army sources said. “In Tuesday’s encounter, three jawans were killed because the escaped militant attacked us when he was among the local protestors.”
“The militant ran away from the house and joined the 800 people who had assembled there. He mixed with them, to use them as a shield. When the group came near the encounter site, he hurled grenades — in which the three jawans were martyred,” an army officer said.
The last time a house was razed to the ground in Hajin village of Bandipora was last year, on Feb 6, 2016. Three foreign Lashkar militants were killed in that encounter and were later buried in Uri. Residents of the village collected money for the owner of the house to build a new one in its place.
Asked how the militants know in advance that they have been surrounded, army officers said that unusual barking of dogs and whistles or slogans raised by locals give them the indication.
“In the night they are alert all the time. As soon as they suspect the movement of security forces in the area, they start observing from all corners of the house with night-vision devices. If they realise that the army is approaching, then they look for the best route of escape,” the army officers said.
Because of the public support that militants get during encounters, sources said, troops prefer to hit the target either in the evening or in the early morning hours.
“The phenomenon of people supporting militants is a serious concern for us. One strategy we have worked out is to engage them in the late evening hours or early morning hours,” an officer said.