NEW DELHI: Nearly all the militants involved in the killings of civilians in Jammu and Kashmir last month have been neutralised and the armed forces are now focussing on intelligence-based “surgical operations” involving smaller teams to deal with terror activities in the Union Territory, sources in the security establishment said on Sunday.
They said a “refined” approach to deal with militancy has been put in place under a more nuanced framework of better coordination among the Jammu and Kashmir police, the intelligence agencies and the Army with an aim to minimise collateral damage.
After a spell of relative calm, Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a spate of killings of innocent civilians last month, triggering apprehensions of an intense cycle of violence and turmoil in the region.
The sources said a major focus of the anti-terror drill has been to achieve “zero loss” of innocent lives and all wings of the security forces have been trying to achieve it.
That is why the focus has been on “intelligence-based surgical operations” involving smaller teams, with a focus on drawing support from the local population to such actions, they added.
According to intelligence inputs, Pakistan-based terror handlers have instructed their proxies operating in Kashmir to ensure at least 10 civilian deaths whenever the security forces undertake counter-terror operations, the sources said.
They said 24 civilians were killed and 49 injured in various counter-terror operations in 2018.
Over the past three years, the security forces undertook a series of measures to ensure minimum collateral damage and as a result of such efforts, only two civilians were killed and two received minor injuries in 2021, the sources said.
Asked about the encounter in Srinagar’s Hyderpora, they said a certain section is focussing on it to occupy “lost space”.
Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbag Singh on Thursday said the ongoing investigation into the Hyderpora encounter suggests that the militants were supported by a network in carrying out terror activities.
The sources said the security forces have been getting support, including actionable intelligence, from the locals in several parts of Jammu and Kashmir as they have rejected the “false propaganda” unleashed by Pakistan.
“There were instances of militants even being allowed to escape when there was a threat of collateral damage or when the lives of innocents were assessed to be at risk,” said a source on condition of anonymity.
The sources claimed that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has been under control and pointed out that compared to the 318 terror-related incidents in 2018, only 121 incidents were reported in 2021.
“Similarly, while 202 stone-pelting incidents were reported in 2019, only 39 have been reported in 2021,” said another source.
The sources said elements close to the Pakistani establishment have been relentlessly attempting to instigate the Kashmiri people.
On October 7, militant Mehran Yaseen Shalla killed two teachers inside a government boys’ higher secondary school at Safa Kadal, Srinagar. Shalla was killed by the security forces on November 24, the sources said.
Militant Adil Ah Wani killed Sageer Ahmed Ansari, a carpenter and a resident of Saharanpur, near the Litar bus stand in Anantnag.
Wani was killed by the security forces in Shirmal Shopian on October 20 under the “Operation Dragad”, the sources said, citing certain anti-terror operations.
On October 17, militant Gulzar Ahmed Reshi was involved in the killings of two labourers from Bihar and one labourer was injured at Wanpoh in Kulgam. Reshi was killed by the security forces on October 20 under the “Operation Sopat”, the sources said.–(PTI)