Kakapora town and its peripheries in South Kashmiri’s Pulwama district have become a hot bed for militants particularly for those belonging to Lashkar-e- Toiba (LeT).
Though, government forces killed most of the militants including top three LeT commanders during encounters in the area during past three years but militant sentiment among common youth fails to die down.
After talking to youth of the area it was found that the desire to become militants prevails in many of them.
The villagers said that on the day Abu Dujana and Arif Nabi Dar were killed at Hakripora village, three youth attempted to snatch weapons from the army personnel who were guarding the encounter site.
“The youth failed and were beaten up to pulp,” they said.
The anger among the locals is at an all time high owing to a number of civilian deaths the area witnessed during past three years.
Around six civilians of the area, mostly youth were killed in teargas shelling and firing by government forces during the last three years.
Since August of 2015 around 18 militants, most of whom were local, were killed in Kakapora and its peripheral areas.
It started with Talib Hussain, a local LeT commander from adjoining Naman village. Talib was killed in Kakapora streets in an encounter with security forces on 6 August of 2015.
Soon after this incident two more local militants of LeT including the most aged militant, Gulzar Ahmad Bhat were killed in a village close to Kakapora.
Gulzar Ahmad Bhat and Showket Ahmad Lone of Lelhara were killed in Ratnipora paddy fields in an encounter with security forces on 11 August 2015.
It was said the security forces used unmanned aerial vehicles for first time in Kashmir during this encounter.
After a gap of one month another encounter broke near Kakapora in Begumbagh village which turned a major setback for LeT as one of the most deadly militant commander, Irshad Ahmad Ganie of Padgampora was killed in this encounter.
Irshad was killed in paddy fields on 12 September of 2015.
The peripheries of Kakapora continued to turn ugly for militants in year 2106. It started with SPO turned HM militant, Syeed Rakib Bashir of Zadoora village.
Rakib was killed in a brief gunfight with security forces on 6 February and eight days latter it was again Kakapora town where another local LeT militant, Adil Ahmad Shergojri was killed in an encounter with security forces.
In subsequent clashes that erupted after the killing of Adil two students, Shaista Hamid and Mohammad Asif Mir were killed in firing by government forces on protesters.
On 9 March 2017, Adil’s brother, Mohammad Shafi Shergojri was killed with his associate, Jehangir Ahmad Ganie in an encounter at Padgampora, a neighbouring village. A 9th class student of Begum Bagh, Amir Nazir was killed in army firing on protestors near the encounter site.
Again in the same month on 26, two HM militants, Mohammad Shafi Wani (Rayees) and Farooq Ahmad Hurrah were killed in an ambush at Padgampora while they were travelling in a vehicle towards Awantipora.
On 21 June 2017, three militants, Shabir Ahmad of Awantipora, Irshad Ahmad and Majid Mir of Kakapora were killed in an encounter. A civilian, Tawseef Hussain Wani of Tenpuna was killed in subsequent clashes that erupted near the encounter site.
LeT suffered another major blow on 1 august 2017 when its Top commander, Abu Dujana and his associate, Arif Nabi Dar of Lelhara were gunned down in an encounter at Hakripora, a village few kilometers from Kakapora.
Two civilians were killed in firing by army on civilians. Firdous Ahmad Khan of Begum Bagh was killed near the encounter site while Akeel Ahmad Bhat was killed in at his native village in Gabbarpora.
Six days latter it was Samboora, a village adjacent to Kakapora where a low profile leT militant Umar (Rehman Bhai) was killed in an encounter with government forces while two managed to escape.
Let received a major blow when Mohammad Ayoub Lone, who had become face of the outfit after killing of Irshad Ahmad Ganie was killed in an Ambush in a neighbouring village.
Three days ago, a local youth, Owais Shafi Dar was killed in pellet firing by paramilitary at Kakapora.
A senior police official of Jammu and Kashmir police said on conditions of anonymity that Kakapora and adjoining area have dense tree cover and is hemmed by Jhelum on one side.
“Militants take advantage of these two factors,” he said, adding that it becomes easy for them to hide in this area and escape cordons after crossing the river by boats.
He also said that some militants were having support from people because they were local and used to guide foreign militants.
According to police sources three to four local militants are still active in the area.