'J&K militancy at lowest ebb, terror groups leaderless'

[Moscow: Police officers detains a protester, center, dressed as a Russian police officer before a court hearing of the New Greatness group who are charged with the organization of an extremist association in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Arrests of the two youngest members of the New Greatness group - 17-year-old Anna Pavlikova and 19-year-old Maria Dubovik - prompted a mass protest in August 2018, after which the two teenagers were released under house arrest. /PTI] By Rajnish Singh Srinagar, Aug 6 : After the completion of one year of the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir, active militancy is in its "lowest" phase in the erstwhile state in decades and all terror groups are "leaderless" due to the continuous anti-terror operations by the security forces as well as the administration. Dilbag Singh, J&K Director General of Police, shared the details while talking to IANS here about the current situation in the Union territory since the nullification of Article 370 on August 5 last year. "The number of active terrorists in J&K has been around 200 compared to 350 or 400 earlier. All the terror organisations are leaderless now and those militants who are recruited as leaders of any group by Pakistan-based handlers are caught or killed," Singh said. "In 2019, a total of 131 militants were killed till July but only 29 were killed from July to December that year as we were busy maintaining law and order, and our operations had declined. In total, we killed 160 militants in 2019 in 67 successful operations and over 5,000 cordon and area search operations," Singh said. This year so far, Singh said, a total of 150 terrorists have been killed. Of these 150 terrorists, 30 were foreign and 120 were locals, including 39 top commanders of all major groups. "All terrorists are almost leaderless now," the DGP said. Calling 2018 a "landmark" year compared to 2013, the DGP said that security is "much better now than ever before". "The number of poster boys of militancy started increasing in 2013 and major recruitment was done till 2017. Poster boys like Manan Wani, Burhan Wani and Riyaz Naikoo were so famous here at that time. Youths used to carry their photos and girls got attracted to them. "Operations against such groups improved in 2017 and 2018 was a landmark year as far as our operations were concerned. Governor's rule came in 2018, and there was a huge difference in the first six months and second half of 2018 in terms of law and order and militancy operations," Singh said. As per the J&K police chief, the graph of anti-militancy operations reached a high that was not achieved in the last 10 years. Of the 350 to 375 active militants in 2018, 260 were killed in 2018 itself, said the 1987-batch IPS officer who was given additional charge as the Director General of Police (DGP) of Jammu & Kashmir, replacing S.P. Vaid. The officer said 93 successful operations took place in 3,600 cordon and search operations in 2018, and the trend set in 2018 was maintained in 2019. In 2018-2019, the officer said, "we managed to target the support structure of the terrorists." "Earlier, there was a free hand to kill terrorists but it was difficult to touch their handlers. In 2018-2019 we kept targeting group leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, separatist groups, JKLF and their leaders. Hundreds of leaders were caught during this period. It was the biggest solid damage to terrorism in 2019. And its results were seen on the ground." "We targeted a very big group of Over Ground Workers (OWGs) who provide 'oxygen' to militancy, help militants. All help to militants was cut off and a time came when militants used to record messages on mobiles and then give them to others to pass on to their commanders for further orders. They even stopped giving letters." The officer said "the only target was to better the situation which had worsened in 2016, and we were successful in 2018 and further improved it in 2019." "We almost had the situation in control till August when the abrogation period came. In one week since the abrogation of Article 370, we picked up around 5,500 people, told the stone pelters to fill a 'Good Behaviour Bond' and handed them over to their family members after keeping them in custody for 4 to 5 days. We kept only 1,200 people in custody who were a threat to law and order," Singh said. The 1,200 people in custody include Hurriyat members, some stone pelters and some OWG workers. The officer clarified that the number of people in custody never crossed 1,200. "Our total present custody is 560 in which a majority are booked under substantive cases. A former J&K Chief Minister is the only politician in our custody, some belong to Hurriyat and other categories. The remaining are hardcore stone pelters." The officer said a total of 144 stone pelters aged below 18 were picked up under legal procedures and all of them, except 17, were handed over to their families after warning them. "These 17 were put in juvenile homes and court cases were filed." (Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in) /IANS


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