Locals in Kashmir’s rural pockets are increasingly providing cover to the militants during the security forces’ anti-terror operations, making encounters difficult to carry out, while also causing civilian deaths. The latest such hostility by the locals was on display on Friday when the Army killed a top Lashkar commander, Junaid Ahmed Matoo along with his two colleagues. Two civilians were also killed.
The situation is getting more complex given the wave of militant attacks in the recent past in which Jammu and Kashmir policemen were targetted. On Friday, SSB jawans opened fire at Rangreth to chase away stone pelting youths, injuring a young boy who later succumbed to his injuries. On the same evening, militants fired upon two cops; one succumbed to his injuries. Both the slain cop and the youth hailed from Astingo village of Bandipora. Both are survived by a young widow and a minor son.
Reacting on the crowd cover provided to the now slain militants, a senior police officer of South Kashmir told The Sunday Guardian: “The killing of two civilians including a teenager and bullet injuries to dozens of youths say a lot about the opposition in the rural population to anti-terror operations. It has become a huge challenge for the Army and the security forces to carry out operations in such an atmosphere.”
A few days ago, terrorists attacked six security camps in South Kashmir dotting the health resort of Pahalgam to Burhan Wani’s hometown Tral. Nearly a dozen CRPF personnel were injured in these attacks.
After the Army spokesman stated that they had killed Junaid of Lashkar, who was on the list of 12 most wanted militants carrying a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, Lashkar module in the Thajwara village of Achabal in South Kashmir killed SHO Achabal, Naseer Ahmed, along with five cops in a revenge attack. They disfigured their faces by firing on them from a close range.
Meanwhile, the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax has also become a bone of contention with all the political parties including the National Conference and the separatists opposing it. The move is being seen as an assault on the “internal autonomy” of Jammu and Kashmir. All trader bodies of Kashmir called for a bandh on Saturday against GST’s implementation. The authorities responded to the strike call by imposing a curfew. The J&K Assembly on Saturday failed to pass the GST bill in a special one day session as the opposition created a ruckus. As soon as the Assembly started to take up obituary references, Congress MLAs stood up on their seats demanding that the names of those killed in the unrest be included in the obituary references of the House.