Ganderbal: Locals of Naranag village are gripped in panic as an area-domination operation by the army continues in the upper reaches of Ganderbal district 10 days after two unidentified militants were killed in the region.
The forces believe that the slain militants were part of a larger militant group, which has infiltrated into the region from across the Line of Control.
An encounter ensued between the suspected militants and security forces in Trumkhal area, according to police, following which the militants were killed in a “sequel” operation late September.
After the militants were killed within a span of 24 hours, nearly a dozen locals from Naranag village were taken by the army and police towards the Churnar area, close to Trumkhal, to carry out the last rites of slain militants. “We buried them in a graveyard, close to the encounter site,” an eye-witness told NewsClick.
The locals from Naranag, who carried out the funeral rites of the slain militants, say it took them two days to complete the formalities. A team of two doctors, a pharmacist and three others from the Ganderbal’s government hospital were also taken to the site to perform the post-mortem of the slain.
The encounter site takes five hours of trek from the Naranag village. According to the official sources, the army has brought elite para-trooper commandos for the operation. The paras were air-dropped from helicopters in the area due to inclement weather and rough terrain.
A massive scare followed in the area as the encounter ensued due to which the locals became apprehensive of a possible flare-up in the area. “We heard helicopters for days making rounds in the area which scared us. The army and police were also going up,” a local said.
The area where the operation is going on is a remote mountainous region in Ganderbal, with almost no population. It is, however, a tourist destination and a route used by nomad Bakerwal tribes in the Valley. Following the operation, the nomads present in the area were asked to vacate along with their cattle.
The last encounter between militants and security forces in the area, according to police, happened in year 2014. The only local surviving militant in the area was arrested last year. Since then, Ganderbal district is the only militancy-free district in Kashmir currently, with no local recruit in any of the militant groups active in the Valley.
“There is no militant presence in the area, as it only acts as a transition route for militants but not often. It is not a traditional route, preferred for infiltration or movement of militants,” Superintendent of Police Khalil Poswal told NewsClick.
This is the second non-traditional route used by infiltrators to cross over to Kashmir. Earlier, a similar sighting was reported from Gulmarg in North Kashmir following which a massive troop build-up was carried out by security grid along the region connecting Shamsbari-range and Haji Peer pass in North Kashmir.
Militant sightings have increased across Kashmir Valley and despite hundreds of cordon and search operations carried out in these areas, almost all inputs and sighting have not resulted into a successful counter-insurgency operation, a police intelligence officer told NewsClick.
The reason, many in the security grid believe, is the communication blockade which has affected inputs from human intelligence as well as those from technology of the mobiles and internet.
The Trumkhal group is believed to have infiltrated from North Kashmir’s Tulail-Gurez sector near LoC and used Gangbal area near the encounter site to possibly move towards Tral area. Tral is one of the main bastions of militancy in the Pulwama District in South Kashmir, where the number of active militants is over 150.
A family from Sopore has, however, approached the police claiming that one of the slain militant is their missing son. The missing youth from the family had ex-filtrated from Kashmir into Pakistan earlier last year and joined militant ranks, according to the police.
The family claims that a relative outside the state called them up informing them about their son’s killing after he saw a post mentioning his death on a social media network. The police have taken DNA samples from the militant bodies to investigate the family’s claim.
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