The Indian army has launched a massive anti-terror crackdown in the restive border state of Jammu and Kashmir to flush out extremists from various districts. Over 3,000 counter-terror force comprising the army, local police personnel and paramilitary troops are involved in the raid.
Anti-terror operations have resumed for the first time in months after they were halted following continuous large-scale protests battering the state. It is also the first crackdown in the southern areas of Kashmir since the death of key separatist Burhan Wani in July 2016, which triggered a series of violent incidents of unrest.
As many as 20 villages have been cordoned off in Shopian district, located 60km from the state capital Srinagar, as security forces sweep the region for militant hideouts. The army decided to carry out the raids after a sharp rise in incidents such as rifle thefts and bank heists. There have been several militant attacks in the past few days as well.
The army is conducting door-to-door searches in more than a dozen villages in the region. Safe havens will be targeted in order to limit the movements of militants, security forces said.
"Until now, we have identified one militant each from Padgampora and Khagpura, which proves Lashkar's involvement in the incident. It is clear that militant organisations like these are short of cash. We have also seen that they now carry more advanced technological gadgets. We are continuing the investigation," local police official Mohammed Bhat said, following twin bank robberies in one the areas.
Several videos have also surfaced in social media showing heavily armed insurgents roaming in multiple Shopian districts in recent days. This has triggered a widespread alert in southern Kashmir.
Kashmir is going through a turbulent phase since July 2016 with multiple cross-border incidents between India and Pakistan. Repeated clashes have broken out between protesters in the valley and army personnel in the past resulting in several casualties.