Srinagar: Three districts in Kashmir have zero “active militants” currently even as two prominent militant organisations, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed, have gone “headless” after security forces neutralised their operatives and commanders, a senior police officer said on Saturday.
He identified the three “militant-free” districts as Bandipora, Kupwara and Ganderbal.
The Kashmir region, that comprises 13 police districts, has 81 militants at present with 29 being local while 52 are of foreign origin (Pakistanis), Additional Director General of Police (Kashmir zone) Vijay Kumar said.
He was interacting with a group of visiting journalists at the police control room here.
“The security forces have an upper hand now when it comes to containing terrorism and militants in the Valley. We are working to bring the figure of active, foreign and hybrid terrorists to less than 50 in the near future,” the officer said.
We are very hopeful of eradicating militancy from Kashmir in the next two years, he asserted.
Kumar said the LeT and JeM are currently “headless” after the security forces neutralised their ranks in multiple encounters and operations.
Officials said Farooq Nalli, a Hizbul Mujahideen top operative, is the only active commander — since 2015 — and he is on the radar of the forces, including the Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) and sister forces like the Army and the Central Reserve Police Force.
Police officials said the “achievement” of the forces in neutralising senior militant operatives can be gauged from the fact that while there were 80 top commanders in Kashmir about two years ago, there are only three now. Apart from Nalli, the two others are inactive.
Kumar added that there were about 15-18 active “hybrid” militants.
According to security agencies, hybrid militants are those who are radicalised online and are given pistols to kill one or two persons, identified or unidentified.
Most of these “hybrid” militants are located in South Kashmir area comprising Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag districts, officials said.
Police authorities said the militants operating in Kashmir are now operating in a “module”, where they get a specific direction of attacking or killing one person.
“We have busted as many as 119 modules this year,” ADGP Kumar said.
The JKP officials said their main area of concern in Kashmir is militants picking up “soft targets” like labourers coming from other states and Kashmiri Pandits, while they also have “detected” some women over ground workers (OGWs) assisting im some recent terrorist activities.
“We have, however, ensured that those who target labourers and members of the Pandit community are neutralised immediately and also that they are not kept safe as much as possible,” a senior officer said.
Another concern for the police is the recent seizure of some Turkey-made pistols from militants, which they said is an indicator that Pakistan-based handlers are providing weapons of that country to ultras operating in Kashmir.
The officer said there is also a fourth category of ultras in Kashmir whom they categorise as “potential militants.” These are those who are radicalised, have joined or about to join the militant ranks but have not undertaken a militant act.
“In 80 per cent cases in this category, the families of these potential terrorists inform the JKP and security forces about their doubtful activities, and we have been able to bring back 13 of them in 2022, some even after joining the ranks,” another senior officer said.
“We can tell you that denying social sanction to militants, their activities and radicalisation activities will usher peace in Kashmir,” the officer said.
According to latest police data, there were 99 local recruitments in militant ranks in Kashmir this year, an all-time low over the last six years.
Out of these, 64 were killed and 17 arrested, the data said.
The comparative figures are: 136 in 2021, 167 in 2020, 140 in 2019, 201 in 2018, 147 in 2017 and 95 in 2016.
Maximum local militants, according to data, are killed within a month of their joining the militant ranks while some are neutralised in two to three months.
Twenty-nine civilians were killed by militants this year and these included three Kashmiri Pandits and Hindus each, 15 Muslims, apart from six non-local Hindus and two non-local Muslims.
The officials said security situation in the Valley has improved “drastically” as there have been “no bandhs, no major internet shutdowns, no stone pelting incidents and zero killings of civilians” during operations of the security forces post the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.
A total of 169 militants (127 local terrorists and 42 foreign militants) have been killed in Kashmir this year, the data said.