On Wednesday, three terrorists were gunned down in an encounter in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. The deceased terrorists – identified as Javaid Ahmad Shiekh, a resident of Beerwa, Sajid Ahmad Gilkar, a resident of Malaratta and Aaquib Gul, a resident of Gooripora – were from the terror outfit Hizb ul Mujahideen.
With this, over 100 terrorists are reported to have been killed this year as of now. This is against 150 in the whole of 2016. 80 terrorists were killed in the corresponding period of 2016. Of the 100 terrorists killed as of now this year, 33 belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba and 23 belonged to Hizbul-Mujahideen.
Most of the terrorists killed this year are big and prominent terror operatives. In 8 July last year, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with the security forces. In May this year, Sabzar Bhat, the successor of Burhan Wani, was gunned down by security forces.
The other terrorists gunned down in the recent times in encounter with security forces include Basir Lashkari, Abu Musaib, Aquib Ahmad Bhat, Abu Hamza and Gulzar Ahmad Lone. While Lashkari was working as a LeT commander, Musaib was a divisional commander of Pakistan-based terror outfit Abu Haris. Sabzar, Aquib, Abu and Gulzar were from Hizbul Mujahideen.
Reports suggest that most of the terrorists have been neutralised in Budgam, Kupwara, Kulgam, Baramulla, Anantnag, Bandipore and Pulwama. While 57 terrorists were killed so far this year in joint counter-terror offensive of Army, CRPF and J&K Police, 43 have been killed while infiltrating from across the boarder in Pakistan.
But what is worrisome is that an estimated 150 terrorists, including 40-50 who infiltrated from Pakistan, are still present in south Kashmir. The Army had launched Operation Clean Up to flush South Kashmir of terrorists.
The improvement casualty figures of terrorists is largely to do with Indian Amry’s strategy to actively engage with the terrorists in a seamless coordination with para-military forces, intelligence agencies and state police with a full backing of the Central government. The government has given a free hand to the Army to take stern actions against those who are spreading terror and vitiating the atmosphere in the Valley.
The intelligence agencies are simultaneously taking steps to choke terror funding in Kashmir. In a first, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) raided Kashmiri separatist leaders in connection to the funding they reportedly received from Pakistan to spread terror in the Valley. The amount received by the Kashmiri separatists from Pakistan in last one year, to keep the turmoil in Kashmir active, could run into several hundred crores.