After the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, Anantnag (Islamabad) did not lack behind other southern districts in the number of youth joining militancy. As many as 22 youth have entered the ranks of different armed outfits since then. The government forces carried out 207 ‘Search & Destroy Operations’ against the militants in the past one and a half year.
The data accessed from the counter-insurgency wings of police and army reveals that in 2016 five youth joined militancy in Anantnag, 13 in 2017 and four in the first four months of 2018.
Among them, the data reveals that seven youth have been killed in different encounters while two returned to their homes, which included a footballer.
There has been no let up in the Search & Destroy Operations (SADO) – as the anti-militancy search operations are called in the security apparatus – says the data. In the current year, 29 SADOs have so far been carried out in the district. During the year 2017, Dooru witnessed 30, Kokernag 29, Achabal six, Mattan 11, Pahalgam 21 and Bijbehara 81 SADOs, the data says.
A senior police official posted in southern Kashmir said that SADOs in the district were launched after information about the presence of militants. He said the security apparatus did not miss any slightest information. “The locality /habitations were checked after the area was dominated fully,” he said adding that operations were mostly specific to avoid damage or inconvenience to the people.
The records suggest that 11 militants are presently active in Anantnag district. However, senior superintendent of police Anantnag, Altaf Ahmad Khan, told the that the number fluctuates. “The district is adjacent to other (militancy-affected) districts that results in number fluctuation,” Khan said.
The records also reveal in last about nine months no militant has managed his escape after protests erupted at encounter sites. “At five places protests erupted at encounter sites, but at all places there were militant causalities,” reveals the data.
Besides this, the data says that the district has recorded several attacks on police and army. In one daring attack in June last year, militants ambushed a police party on the outskirts of Anantnag town and killed six policemen, including a station house officer, of Achabal police station.
Since 2014, there has been a rise in the number of youth taking up arms, mostly in southern parts of Kashmir. The encounters between militants and armed forces are frequent and the local population does not shy away from expressing support for the militants. In the local as well as the national media, a consensus has emerged: a new wave of local militancy has gathered strength in southern Kashmir.
A senior police officer monitoring the developments told that Burhan’s death, like in other southern districts, “somehow changed the picture.”