Violence across Jammu and Kashmir continues to mount as five personnel of the Army, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), were killed in a gunfight with armed militants, in an anti-insurgency operation in the Poonch area of Jammu region, on October 11.
At least 18 people have been killed in J&K since October 1. They include eight non-combatants and five soldiers. In the latest incident on Tuesday (October 12), three militants were killed in the Tulran area of Imam Sahib in Shopian; one of them identified as Mukhtar Shah from central Kashmir’s Budgam. Authorities believe that he was responsible for the killing a street vendor (Virender Paswan from Bihar) in Madina Chowk, in the Hawal area of Srinagar.
The police said that all three slain militants belonged to the LeT, adding that ‘incriminating materials and arms and ammunition’ had been recovered from the site of the encounter.
Army operation on
An Indian Army spokesperson said the forces had launched an anti-militancy search operation in a village near DKG in Surankote, Poonch, in the early hours following inputs about the presence of heavily armed militants in the Chamrer woods.
A defence spokesperson said, “the militants opened heavy fire on the search parties resulting in critical injuries to the JCO and four other ranks.” Officials believe that the militants recently infiltrated from across the Line of Control (LoC).
All five soldiers were immediately moved to a nearby hospital for treatment, but all of them succumbed to bullet injuries.
Separately, the Jammu and Kashmir police said that two militants were killed in two districts of the Kashmir valley. Police officers said a gunfight with militants broke out in the Khagund area of Verinag in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, killing one militant. They said that one policeman also sustained injuries.
The J&K police said that in the Gund Jahangir area in Hajin (considered a transit point for militants in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district), forces killed one militant, allegedly owing allegiance to the newly formed militant outfit, The Resistance Front (TRF). The police identified the deceased as Imtiyaz Ahmad Kakroo.
The family members of Imtiyaz Kakroo refuted the police claim and said that he was killed in an extrajudicial manner in a ‘staged gunfight.’ They said the personnel ‘abducted Imtiyaz Kakroo from the Naidkhai fields near an embankment’ and he was later found dead. A video showing the Kakroo family version has since gone viral.
The police said that he was responsible for the recent killing of Mohammad Shafi, a Taxi stand office-bearer, in the Naidkhai region in Hajin.
“He (Imtiyaz Kakroo) was busy working in the rice fields,” a woman can be heard saying in a video uploaded by journalist Sajad Gul. Another woman, in the same video, claimed that Imtiyaz Kakroo had spent a night at their house, and was later helping the family with the harvest.
“He was helping us in the fields. And, as we were gathering the crop, he received a call on his mobile phone from someone who informed him that his house had been raided,” the woman says in the video adding, “He felt scared, sipped tea, and left. As soon as he reached the embankment, he was picked up by the Army. They took him with them.”
Sajad Gul, in an SOS tweet, said, “after my several videos on the #Encounter in Gundjehangir, I am receiving calls from police, threatening me to report at the police station.”
After my several videos on the #Encounter in Gundjehangir. I am receiving calls from police, threatening me to report at the police station.@pzfahad @UbaidMajeed_ @svaradarajan @AakashHassan @riyaz_masroor @majidhyderi @ShujaUH #JournalismIsNotAcrime
— Sajad Gul (@SajadGUL_) October 11, 2021
TRF claims responsibility
The TRF, which the police believe is an off-shoot of the proscribed Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfits, had claimed responsibility for most of the recent civilian killings in Kashmir.
Another lesser-known militant group ‘Geelani Force’ too had claimed responsibility for targeting civilians, while accusing the TRF of working for Pakistan and wrongfully taking credit for the group’s actions.
Experts believe that the foot soldiers of newly floated militant groups are using small arms (pistols) to target civilians, including members of the minority Sikh and Pandit communities, to frighten and dissuade them from reclaiming properties once legally sold. Some of the properties were encroached upon in the aftermath of the departure of some families of the Pandit community in the early 1990s.
On September 7, the Lieutenant-Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, launched an online portal to redress the grievances of migrant Kashmiris, with regard to immovable properties sold in haste or abandoned in the 1990s. Earlier, Manoj Sinha had ordered the implementation of the J&K Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection and Restraint on Distress Sales) Act, 1997. The restive region’s Deputy Commissioners were given the authority to undertake surveys and verifications of such properties and report their status within a fortnight.
A significant number of complaints filed on the portal were found fake, though.
Sanjay Tickoo, who heads the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), a group representing members of the minority Pandit community who did not migrate from the Kashmir Valley in the 1990s, told The Federal that he had been seeking a meeting with the L-G since June this year.
“My repeated requests were falling on deaf ears. Only after the recent civilian killings I was assured of a meeting, but right now I am under a security cover,” Tickoo told The Federal.
The police and other security agencies have detained more than 700 youths across the Kashmir valley. The magnitude of the number of detentions has sent shock waves among the populace. Government forces justify detentions saying that the intention is ‘to break the chain’ and find some possible links to the recent violence.
Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, and president of the J&K People’s Democratic Party (PDP), said that her worst fears had come true.
“Precisely, this was my fear, that after its failures in J&K, the Government of India will use these incidents to suppress the people of Kashmir further. Arresting or detaining so many people is an action in that direction,” Mehbooba Mufti told The Federal from Doda region in the Chenab Valley, where she has gone on a visit.
Sources told The Federal that most of the detainees had allegiance to the proscribed Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI), Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH), and young protesters with a history of stone-throwing. There are others whom the authorities accuse of being ‘associates,’ ‘sympathisers,’ or ‘over ground workers.’
Several media reports said that in the southern district of Shopian, nearly 50 youths have been detained for interrogation. The number is said to be more than 70 in Srinagar, while in the central district of Ganderbal, the number is 45.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has called around 40 government teachers for questioning, especially as part of the investigation into the brutal killing of school principal Supinder Kour and her colleague Deepak Chand on October 5.
The NIA is now investigating the recent wave of killings in Kashmir.