Government Forces Thursday launched a massive search operation in South Kashmir in wake of surge in militant related activities. Officials said that it was the first major anti-militant operation in last 27 years.Armed forces from 44 Rashtriya Rifles, Special Operation Group units from Kulgam and Shopian and 7 Battalions of Para military Central Reserve Police Force laid a siege around 7 major hamlets of South Kashmir’s Shopian district including Tarkwangam, Chitragam Kalan, Hefdora, Molchitragam and Trenz.Locals told news agency CNS that thousands of armed forces personnel not only cordoned off the multiple villages but they also laid a siege around the vast paddy fields and orchards. Sources said that the siege was laid at around 4 in the morning while after launching a combing operation in the vast paddy fields, government forces started house to house search operation.
Reports said that a large number of people from the villages under siege hit to roads and amid pro-freedom slogans clashed with the armed forces. In order to disperse a massive protest march, government forces reportedly used pellets and tear-smoke shells. The agitated protesters resorted to massive stone-pelting. When protesters didn’t budge, government forces resorted to aerial firing creating panic in villages under siege. Reports added that 8 CRPF and Policemen and 32 protesters were wounded in clashes at Turkwangam. The injured were shifted to District Hospital Shopian for treatment.DIG South Kashmir SP Pani told CNS that search operation was launched to nab the hiding militants. “I can’t tell you whether we used helicopters or drones. It is a sensitive matter,” he said.A police official denied the reports that helicopters hovered in the sky. He however said that drones were used to monitor the situation. “At some places where people assembled to stage protests and we dispersed them,” he said and claimed that at least 15 local militants from Hizbul Mujhadeen may be present in these villages.
This major search operation had become inevitable in wake of recent militant attacks. To conduct the operation smoothly and peacefully, CRPF personnel from about 7 battalions were deployed in these villages,” the official said.Meanwhile, local residents from Tarkawangum alleged that government forces let loose a reign of terror in the area. They alleged that Forces ransacked houses, damaged vehicles and bikes and thrashed people irrespective of their age. The allegations were however refuted by a police official.Reports said that the operation was concluded after 12 hours. Police sources said that no arrests were made.Meanwhile, the Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat while talking to reporters in New Delhi said that operation was launched in South Kashmir to bring the situation under control. "The combing operation is going on as some banks were looted and some policemen have been killed. It has been launched to ensure that the situation is brought under control. These operations are carried out regularly," he said. (CNS)