Rajat Sharma

Targeted killings: Why terrorists in Kashmir are desperate

AKBTwo back-to-back top-level meetings took place in Delhi on Friday, presided over by Home Minister Amit Shah to deal with the spurt in ‘targeted killings’ of innocent people by terrorists in Kashmir Valley. The meetings were attended by Lt. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, Army Chief Gen Manoj Pandey, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Hoe Secretary Ajay Bhalla and officials of Intelligence Bureau, RAW, CRPF, BSF and J&K Police.

It was decided that there would be changes in strategy and the security apparatus in the valley would be overhauled. Best police personnel will be identified, given specialized training and posted in police stations, for better grassroot policing and keeping a watch on movements of terrorists.

Tabs will be kept on armed youths who have emerged as ‘hybrid terrorists’, who carry out targeted killings of Kashmiri Hindus and outsiders working in the Valley, and then mix with the civilian population to evade detection. Some of these youths have claimed to be part of a new fledgling terror group called ‘Kashmir Freedom Fighters’ (KFF). Terrorists who are already identified by police have now resorted to proxy arrangement with ‘hybrid terrorists’ for targeted killings of soft targets, in order to strike terror among Kashmiri Hindus and outsiders working in the Valley. The staff strength at police stations will be raised by inducting reserve police staff to help in law and order and beat policing.

In the other meeting, security plans were chalked out for the oncoming Amarnath Yatra, which the terrorists may try to derail by carrying out attacks. Additional army units and central paramilitary forces will be deployed, drones will be used for surveillance, snipers will be deployed on the entire route and yatra convoys will be led by pilot armoured vehicles. Contingency plans have been chalked out to meet all eventualities.

It was pointed out at the meeting that major terror groups, with their masterminds sitting across the border, are worried over the sea change that has come in the situation in the Valley. More than 9.9 lakh tourists visited the Valley till May 31 and this has been the cause of worry for Pakistani handlers sitting across the border.

This is the main reason why unknown ‘hybrid’ terrorists are being used to kill soft targets like Kashmiri Hindus and outsiders in the Valley. To nix their plan, the Centre has decided not to allow mass transfer of all Kashmiri Pandits from Valley to Jammu division. They will now be shifted to safer locations at district and tehsil headquarters as part of a temporary move. A senior official said, “ethnic cleansing took place in 1990, but we will not allow this to happen now. We believe in a multi-cultural society”.

The good news is that Kashmiri Muslims have come forward to raise their voice against ‘targeted killings’. In the last one month, more than nine people have been killed by terrorists. A day after a rural bank manager from Rajasthan and a labourer from Bihar were killed, two non-local labourers were hurt when terrorists threw a grenade at them in Aglar Zainapora area of Shopian district on Friday.

There was protest at Lal Chowk, Srinagar against ‘targeted killings’, while the imam of Anantnag mosque said after Friday prayers that “killing of innocents cannot be termed as jihad”. “If some people think that a Musalman is doing jihad by attacking minorities, then I oppose such acts. Islam has not allowed such jihad where minorities are killed because of their religion”, the imam said. He appealed to all Kashmiri Muslims to come out and protest such killings.

The Grand Mufti of Kashmir Valley also said, he condemns killing of innocent persons. Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam said, Kashmiri Pandits or Dogra Hindus are an inviolable part of Kashmir and Kashmiriyat, and they should not be allowed to leave the Valley. “The Muslims of Kashmir are with their Pandit brothers”, he said.

The killing of innocent Kashmiri Pandits and non-locals by terrorists is indeed sad, and it poses a big challenge. Such targeted killings must not spread the false assumption that the situation has not changed in the Valley in the last three years. On the contrary, I feel, this is concrete evidence that terrorism in the Valley is taking its last breath. Terrorists are being killed in encounters. They no more attack our security forces with AK-47 rifles. They are targeting innocents by firing from pistols. Those who used to throw stones at security forces have vanished. Tourists are coming to the Valley in large numbers. Kashmir is creating records in industrial investments. All these are the results of the changed strategy of the Centre in the Valley. If innocent people are being killed to spread fear, the only shortcoming that I find is that the local administration did not anticipate a sudden change in the strategy of terror groups.

There have been protests in Jammu demanding that Kashmiri Pandits be moved to Jammu division immediately. One must realize that this is what the terrorists and their masterminds want. They are choosing soft targets to save themselves from security forces.

Take the instance of the two non-local labourers shot by terrorists at a brick kiln in Badgam district on Thursday. The brick kiln is located away from the village at an isolated spot. These poor labourers were cooking their diner, when terrorists, with their faces covered, came and fired at them. The labourer, Dilkhush Kumar, who died, hailed from Bihar. He had reached Budgam a week ago n search of work at this brick kiln. The terrorists targeted the labourers because they were unarmed and not local residents.

Similarly, in Kulgam, they killed a rural bank manager Vijay Kumar, who hailed from Rajasthan. Two days prior to that, they shot a lady teacher, Rajni Bala, a Kashmiri Pandit, while she was teaching in school. These are all cold-blooded murders planned by terrorists carefully, to strike terror among Kashmiri Hindus and non-locals. We must never allow the evil designs of terrorists to succeed.

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