Government forces intensify offensive against militants in Indian Kashmir
By Shah Abbas
Srinagar, India, Mar 12 (EFE).- Police in India-administered Kashmir said Saturday that government forces had killed four militants and arrested one in separate operations.
“We had launched joint operations at four to five locations yesterday night. Two terrorists including a Pakistani national, have been killed in south Kashmir, one terrorist each was killed in the central and northern areas. One terrorist was also arrested alive,” Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar told media representatives in Srinagar, the biggest city of the disputed region.
The operations were conducted in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and north Kashmir’s Handwara area, police said.
Kumar said that one of the militants killed in Pulwama “was a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) commander, Kamaal Bhai alias Jatt.”
Kamaal was “a Pakistani national active since 2018 and involved in several terror crimes,” he added.
According to police, suspected militants shot and killed a pro-India party activist and village representative in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Friday evening.
“Deceased sarpanch, Shabir Ahmed Mir had left his protected residence at a Srinagar hotel and reached his native village, Odoura, in Kulgam district, where militants shot and killed him,” a police official told EFE.
In a similar incident on Wednesday, Sameer Ahmad Bhat, a village representative owing allegiance to the pro-India People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was killed by suspected militants at his home in Khonmoh area on the outskirts of Srinagar, police said.
A soldier was also found dead in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Thursday, three days after he went missing.
The soldier, Sameer Malla, was posted in the Jammu region and had traveled to his native village on vacation.
“We are probing all angles in the case as there were no firearm injury marks found on Sameer’s body,” Kumar told reporters.
Government forces launched an intensified offensive against the militants, killing two rebels in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and another in Hazratbal area of Srinagar, on Thursday.
In a statement on the same day, Director General Police Dilbagh Singh said that the number of militants was decreasing rapidly in Kashmir as a result of the offensive.
“The number of active militants is falling fast and the remaining ones are being tracked and very soon the situation in Kashmir will further improve,” he said.
Regional authorities are not returning the rebels’ bodies to their families to prevent huge funerals and anti-India protests.
Reacting to the recent killings of elected village representatives and political activists, the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP questioned the narrative of “normalcy” in Kashmir.
“Is this normalcy? Sarpanchs are assassinated at will and except for condolences, the government has nothing concrete to offer,” the party said in a statement.
The region, disputed between India and Pakistan, was placed under the direct rule of New Delhi after its semi-autonomous status was abolished on August 5, 2019.
Both countries claim the region in its entirety. An armed rebellion has been going on in the Indian-administered side since 1989 and has claimed thousands of lives, mostly civilians, so far.