Shopkeepers are threatened at gunpoint to keep their shops shut and ensure a complete hartal
Officials believe the terrorists have “a deeper game plan” as the violence level has come down despite “heavy presence” of terrorists
By Sumir Kaul :
NEARLY two dozen terrorists are present in the city and its periphery and even openly threatening shopkeepers in some areas, raising serious concern in the security establishment, according to officials. However, security forces are taking all precautions to ensure that the terrorists do not use the situation to cause any flare-up as in the past incidents of stone pelting by youths have occurred during anti-militancy operations, they said. There have been only stray protests since the Government imposed some restrictions on communication channels and movement of people after it announced its decisions to abrogate the Special Status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir and split the State into two Union territories on August 5. Restrictions have subsequently been eased, but the situation in Kashmir Valley seems “far from normal”, particularly with a high presence of terrorists, they said.
At many places in Downtown Srinagar, the terrorists have been seen roaming freely and even warning shopkeepers to keep their shops shut and adhere to their diktats, the officials said. Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Dilbag Singh did not rule out the possibility of presence of terrorists but said to claim that they are roaming freely “is an exaggeration”.
From interactions with several officials of the State as well as the Centre, it is estimated that around two dozen terrorists are well-entrenched within the city limits, while their movement and visibility in rural areas have become a routine. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said counter-militancy operations have taken a severe hit ever since August 5 when the Government announced its decisions on Jammu and Kashmir. Only two operations have taken place since August 5 -- one in Baramulla on August 20 and another chance encounter in Sopore on September 9.
The terrorists have erected blockades in certain parts of the city, including in areas adjoining Anchar Lake and Soura. The officials said that the administration has ensured that there is no civilian death till now and apprehends that any strong action may provide a trigger for violent protests. Search-and-cordon operations and imposition of night restrictions in the city area had ended in early 2000s and it had been declared as militancy free in 2012, they said. The officials believe the terrorists have “a deeper game plan” as the violence level has come down despite their “heavy presence”. At many places in the city, including the highly secured Civil Lines areas of Raj Bagh, Jawhar Nagar and Lal Chowk, shopkeepers were threatened at gunpoint to keep their shops shut and ensure a complete hartal. The shopkeepers and some media outlets have also been asked to keep their peripheral CCTV cameras off, the officials said. In the militancy-hit areas of Shopian, terrorists burnt down an automobile workshop as it was repairing vehicles on Saturday, they said.
Security beefed up along LoC over Pak’s aggressive stance
NEW DELHI :
THE Indian Army has intensified its presence along the Line of Control (LoC) in view of Pakistan’s increased aggressive posture along with direct and indirect threats of war ever since Parliament ended Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 6. Earlier, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had also visited the Valley to review India’s preparedness at the LoC. In the first week of September, Pakistan moved a brigade-sized force to a location 30 km away from the LoC within its own territory as was reported by the Army quoting intel sources. The troops numbering around 2,000 soldiers has been placed at the Bagh and Kotli sector opposite PoK in Pakistan. Pakistan has also scaled up ceasefire violations on the LoC. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been aggressive against India over the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has also been desperately trying to drum up international support against India in its rhetoric on Kashmir.
A day after the historic decision on Jammu and Kashmir on August 6, Imran Khan had made veiled references to a possible war with India while addressing a joint session of the Pakistan Parliament. “Attacks like Pulwama are bound to happen again. I can already predict this will happen. They will attempt to place the blame on us again. They may strike us again, and we will strike back … What will happen then? Who will win that war? No one will win it and it will have grievous consequences for the entire world.
This is not nuclear blackmail,” Khan had said. Khan reiterated his veiled threats about a possible nuclear war with India in an interview to Al Jazeera channel on Saturday. “Pakistan would never start a war, and I am clear: I am a pacifist, I am anti-war, I believe that wars do not solve any problems... (But) when two nuclear-armed countries fight, if they fight a conventional war, there is every possibility that it is going to end up into nuclear war. The unthinkable,” said Khan. India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was a two-nation tour of East Asia during that period of time, also retorted strongly, making India’s stance clear about its response to any military misadventure by Pakistan. “India has never been an aggressor in its history nor will it ever be. But that does not mean that India would balk at using its strength to defend itself,” Singh said in South Korea.