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4 Hizb militants killed in Shopian encounter

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Srinagar: Four more Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed on Monday in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, taking the total number of slain militants during the past 24 hours in south Kashmir to nine.

Informing about today’s encounter, General officer Commanding (GoC) 15 Corps Lt Gen B S Raju said the operation was conducted in a “smooth manner” with no collateral damage to civilian property.

Addressing a hurriedly convened press conference at the Victor Force headquarters at Awantipora, 33 km from here, Gen Raju said the operation was conducted smoothly because of the professionalism of all the agencies involved.

“The intelligence given by Jammu and Kashmir Police, solid crowd control done by the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and the appropriate tactics that were used by the forces on ground ensured that it was done in the most professional manner,” he said.

Gen Raju said he was aware of the difficult circumstances under which the operation was conducted, which involved evacuating considerable number of civilians from the vicinity.

“I would credit the local population, which kind of facilitated the conduct of the operation in such a smooth manner,” he said.

“We will continue with our professional operations in a manner that we cause minimum inconvenience to public and our primary aim remains to bring in peace. We are neutralising somebody so that people can live without fear, they can go about their routine in a manner where their livelihood is not disturbed. That is our primary focus,” the GoC added.

The senior Army officer, who was flanked by Victor Force Major General A Sengupta and Inspector General of CRPF Rajesh Kumar, said Pakistan is “unhappy” with peace in the Kashmir Valley as it wants to keep the pot boiling by pushing armed militants and “peddling misinformation”.

“…as I said earlier that Pakistan is unhappy because it is in its larger plan to keep the pot boiling in the valley. That is how the relevance of the Pakistan army remains within Pakistan.

“As far as Pakistan’s contribution to violence here, it is a combination of two things — inducting weapons and pushing in terrorists… and the second is the information warfare Pakistan intends to fight. I will again make an appeal that don’t consume Pakistani media, it is peddling misinformation and that is something I would like to say even at the cost of repetition,” he said.

Giving details, Maj Gen Sengupta said the security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Pinjora area of the district in south Kashmir this morning after receiving information about the presence of militants there.

The civilian population was evacuated and the forces drew fire from militants even before an appeal for their surrender could be made.

This was the second encounter in Shopian district in the past 24 hours.

Five Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in an eight-hour gun battle with security forces in the district’s Reban area on Sunday.

Have neutralised over 100 militants this year: GoC 15 Corps

Srinagar : Security forces have managed to nautralise 101 militants this year in Jammu and Kashmir, and are now focusing on neutralising around 125 more, including 25 foreign militants in the southern districts of the Valley, officials said on Monday.

General officer Commanding (GoC) of the Army’s XV Corps Lt General B S Raju said while it was difficult to put out an exact number of militants active at the moment, the security forces were looking at 100 odd local militants and around 25 foreigners in south Kashmir.

“We can give a rough figure of 100 odd local terrorists (that) we are looking at and, may be, another 20-25 foreign terrorists,” Gen Raju told reporters at a hurriedly convened press conference at the Victor Force Headquarters in Awantipora.

Asked about the emergence of The Resistance Force (TRF), the Corps commander said, “There is no organisation called TRF. It is a social media entity which is trying to take credit for anything and everything that is happening within the Valley. It is in the electronic domain. We are taking appropriate action to neutralise it. To me, it is a mirror image of a foreign entity of Lashker-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad,” he said.

He said that people of Kashmir took the scrapping of Article 370 in a “positive manner” as there was relative peace for a long time but Pakistan is on a “hyperdrive” on peddling a false narrative to keep the pot boiling in the Valley, a top army officer said on Monday.

“Starting from the situation post abrogation of Article 370, I think the population took the decision in a positive manner. We saw relative peace for a fairly long period of time,” Lt Gen B S Raju, heading the strategic XV corps, told reporters in Awantipora.

“January-February people had begun to move around, schools had opened up, winter tourism had commenced in Gulmarg. So we were seeing all signs of normalcy before the issue of COVID-19 came in and we had to go into another round of lockdown….only to save lives,” he added.

Gen Raju said Pakistan was “not happy” with the peaceful situation in the Valley.

Gen Raju appealed to people not to get swayed by the misinformation that is coming from Pakistan.

22 militants killed in two weeks: DGP

Jammu : Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh on Monday said 88 militants, including a number of top commanders, were killed and 280 others arrested so far in the Union Territory this year.

“Twenty-two of the militants, including six top commanders, were killed in the past two weeks, dealing a major blow to Pakistan and its agencies that are making all-out efforts to escalate violence by pushing a large numbers of militants from across the border,” Singh said.

Of these 22 militants, 18 were killed in south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian alone, while three infiltrators were killed along the LoC in Nowshera sector and one more in Kalakote sector of Rajouri district of Jammu region, the DGP said.

Complimenting police and other security agencies for the successful anti-militancy operations, he said so far 88 militants were killed in 36 anti-militancy operations, while 40 militant associates who were either openly working for militants or were part of their support system were arrested.

In addition, he said 240 over ground workers (OGW) of militants who were instigating people to create law and order problems, providing logistic support and creating hindrance in conduct of search operations and arranging hideouts for militants were also arrested and some of them were booked under the Public Safety Act.

The police chief said all the security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir are working on “mission peace” to provide better atmosphere to people who have suffered a lot over the years due to “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism”.

Referring to the killing of nine Hizbul Mujahideen militants in two back-to-back operations in the past 24 hours in Shopian district of south Kashmir, the police chief said the effort of the security forces is to control and wipe out militancy from Jammu and Kashmir.

The DGP also said that Pakistan was trying to revive the Al-Badr militant group after floating “The Resistance Front” (TRF) in the recent past as part of efforts to hide its continuous support to militancy in the Union Territory.

However, he said there was no information suggesting the Afghan Taliban joining militant activities in the Valley.

“We do not have any information suggesting that they (Afghan Taliban) are coming to Jammu and Kashmir (to join terrorist activities). Basically, Pakistani terrorists are mostly coming to Jammu and Kashmir under the banner of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Pakistan is trying to revive the Al-Badr outfit, which was decimated long back, over the past couple of months after forming the TRF, which we call the ‘Terrorist Revival Front’. They are trying to give it (terrorism) an indigenous colour,” the police chief told reporters here.

He said most of the people joining the TRF are from the LeT and JeM.

“The TRF terrorists who have been killed in the recent past have turned out to be members of LeT, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen. We are alive to the conspiracies and attempts of revival are being taken care of,” he said.

Admitting that a few groups of militants have managed to sneak into Singh said the counter-infiltration grid needs to remain more alert to scuttle the increased attempts by Pakistan to push armed infiltrators.

He said hundreds of militants are present at the launching pads across the Line of Control and the International Border, which remained active even during the winter season this year, while attempts were made to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to drop weapons on this side.

“The border grid needs to be more alert as a desperate Pakistan is trying to infiltrate terrorists from all sides to keep the pot of terrorism boiling besides overcome the depleting militant ranks in the valley,” the police chief told reporters here.

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