Indian security forces comprising both the army and local police personnel have launched door-to-door operations in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir state to flush out extremists. Baramulla, which remains the epicentre of anti-government protests since July, had witnessed two major attacks by Islamists recently.

This is the second such extensive raid carried out by the security forces within a week. Up to 44 youths were arrested during the first search operation, which was carried out on Monday (17 October). "Joint teams of army and police were conducting search operations at several places in Baramulla in view of inputs about movement of militants there during the intervening night," an official was cited as saying.

Such house-to-house searches are not unprecedented in the Kashmir valley but the recent crackdown bears a stark resemblance to the 1990s when militancy was at its peak.

"Over 700 houses were searched in a span of 12 hours on October 17 in an extensive search operation in the old town in Baramulla, during which 44 persons involved with terror-related activities have been apprehended," the army said in brief statement before mounting the fresh operation on Friday (21 October). Besides Chinese and Pakistani flags, the paramilitary forces have reportedly seized anti-India propaganda materials and locally made crude bombs.

The police are asking the residents to come out of their houses through loudspeakers. Local reports indicate that it is still unclear whether the security personnel are targeting extremists or stone-pelting activists in the region. Baramulla district, located about 55kms from the state capital Srinagar, has borne the brunt of the recent unrest since the Kashmir valley plunged into chaos when separatist leader Burhan Wani was killed on 8 July.