“Crackdown”, as they are locally known in Kashmir, is all set to return in the valley as the Army has decided to make house to house search operations a regular part of its anti-militancy operations.

The Army had virtually given it up 15 years ago and operations aimed at reconciliation, such as Sadbhavana, had taken over.

“All the efforts and the hard work done under operation Sadbhavana by the Army to win over the trust of the locals has virtually washed off, as the Army is now facing hostile local crowds at the encounter sites,” said Dr Aaliya Ahmed, a teacher at MERC, University of Kashmir. Many political analysts and writers also feel that fresh anti-militancy operations by the Army will add to the existing alienation on ground.

The Army had already decided to go for coordinated anti-militancy operations in Kashmir with the help of para-military officers and Jammu and Kashmir Police. These operations may soon be a reality now in rural Kashmir as few days back suspected Hizbul Mujahideen militants killed a young local Army officer after kidnapping him in South Kashmir.

The Army in the previous week had cordoned off more than two dozen villages in Shopian area of South Kashmir, with thousands of men in uniform doing door to door search of all the houses. All such combing operations in the future would be having unmanned aerial vehicles and choppers as a permanent feature to make these operations more accurate and surgical in nature, sources in the Army said.

The Central government has already given a green signal for such operations as more and more public support for the holed-up militants has become visible. The participation of thousands of people in the funerals of slain militants is a cause of worry, a police officer told this reporter. He said that they have no alternative but to go for such unpleasant combing exercises on the ground.

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