Forces return to search orchards in Shopian village

Forces return to search orchards in Shopian village
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Locals say several wild animals have been killed during CASOs in recent days

SHOPIAN: Government forces on Wednesday morning launched the third cordon and search operation (CASO) in recent days in Heff-Shirmal area of Shopian, carrying out searches in orchards and forested areas to find suspected hideouts of militants.
Locals told Kashmir Reader that Wednesday’s operation was the second this week. Government forces had conducted similar searches on January 6 and also in the last week of December in the same area, they said.
Witnesses said that a joint team of government forces including army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force, and Jammu and Kashmir Police came with bulldozers to scour the land for hideouts dug in the ground.
Locals said that since the three consecutive operations in the orchards and surrounding forest area, several dead foxes have been found there. They said that government forces fired explosive shells into the dens of wild animals to check for presence of militants, which has resulted in the killings of several wild animals.
Locals said that the forces withdrew from the area in the afternoon without finding anything. They said the Heff-Shirmal Vuder (Karewa land) is a huge area surrounded by orchards, open fields, and dense woods, which the forces suspect to be a hub of militant shelters.
A villager said that government forces during these operations have also torched piles of trash and wood kept by locals.