‘At least one armed man stood at every door, in 17 localities’
Hajin (Bandipora): Government forces on Tuesday launched a massive crackdown in entire Hajin town of Bandipora district. Troops carried out extensive searches, restricted public movement, and detained scores of youth in a huge raid that began late Monday night and ended 20 hours later on Tuesday evening.
At around 11pm Monday night, masked men appeared in Hajin town and announced that youth should remain cautious as forces were coming to detain them. Soon after, the forces arrived, locals said.
Witnesses said that large contingents of army men, central reserve forces, men from the special operations group of JK Police, and special commandos assisted by units of army men from other districts came and sealed off the whole town.
Though the government forces made their appearance at night, the searches began only at early morning, from 6am. Locals claimed that the number of troops was so huge that at each residential door, at least one armed person stood guard. This happened at every residential door in seventeen localities of the town.
The crackdown could be a massive domination exercise, given the volatile situation in the town where regular militant appearances and massive resentment to anti-militancy operations has been witnessed. Government forces have largely avoided surfacing in the town interiors. They go all-out only when they have specific information of militants in hiding. A similar type of operation was carried out last year, too, but no militant was found in the town.
Locals claimed that at least 20 youths were detained after door-to-door searches were carried out. In night raids conducted in the past few weeks, a few pro-freedom activists have already been picked up by police.
The crackdown happened amid strict restrictions on public movement. Locals said they were not allowed to venture outside of their homes and no one, even employees, was allowed to enter the town. Business establishments, government offices and schools remained closed all day. Exams for classes 6, 7 and 8 couldn’t be held due to the operation in town.
The district’s Senior Superintendent of Police told Kashmir Reader that it was a “routine cordon and search operation”.
“Only difference is that it was spread over a large area. Say, if we launch an operation at five places – today, it was ten at a go,” the SSP said. “The reason for the security dominance is to have a sense of security among locals. They should feel safe in the town.”
Hajin has remained a hotbed of militancy for at least three years now The Lashkar is the main outfit operating in the area. During the 1990s, the town was battered by the civil militia Ikhwan. Now it is being butchered by “unknown men” who have carried out a series of gruesome murders of civilians in recent weeks.