Thursday, May 24, 2018 | 1:20 AM

‘Part of a larger strategy’: Cordon-and-search ops are back in Kashmir after 15 years

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cordon-and-search operations are back in Kashmir after 15 years, the state police chief said on Wednesday, as a sharp rise in the number of local youth joining militant ranks forced Indian forces to change their anti-insurgency strategy in the valley, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

Officials said the cordon-and-search operations -- which involve security personnel going door to door -- was launched overnight at Heff and Shirmal villages in Shopian district, where an Indian Army officer was abducted and killed by suspected militants last week. The operations concluded on Wednesday morning.

Though a similar cordon-and-search operation – known as CASO among security forces – was carried out last week in Shopian, the official confirmation was made on Wednesday by Jammu and Kashmir director general police SP Vaid.

Last week thousands of soldiers combed through villages and orchards, unmanned aerial vehicles and choppers monitored the operation from air.

The decision to make such drills a part-and-parcel of counter insurgency operations came as a huge groundswell of support for militants is observed in Kashmir, especially after the five-month protests took place last year following the killing of popular commander Burhan Wani, according to NDTV. Nearly 100 people were killed during the months-long protests and many more blinded by pellets fired by security forces.

With anti-India sentiments rising, the Valley has also been witnessing sporadic student protests in capital Srinagar over rights abuses by the forces.

CASO was abandoned in 2002 after widespread public resentment over entire villages being cleared out and the people paraded in front of “informers” to pick out militants or their sympathisers.

Vaid said the operations are “part of a larger strategy to flush out of militants in south Kashmir”, identified as the epicentre of anti-India protests and militant activities. He said they will continue.

Search operations will be carried out in militancy-hit areas such as Kulgam, Pulwama, Tral, Shopian and Budgam, the report said.

Former Kashmir police chief Javeed Gillani said recently that around 200 militants are active in Kashmir, of which 110 are local youth, most of them drawn to militancy over the past few months. Nearly 90 of the local youth are from south Kashmir.

Source: Hindustan Times