Srinagar: A day after the Hajin encounter, the Army in a joint presser with the Police and the CRPF said that top leadership of the Laskhar-e-Toiba has largely been decimated in the valley.
On Saturday, six Lashkar militants were killed in Chandargeer area of Hajin in gunfight. Among them, Osama Jangi (Obaid), was the nephew of the Lashkar chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
Once again, all the agencies (Army, Police, CRPF) reiterated that the locals who have joined the militant ranks should come back and they would be received with ‘honour’ and no harassment would take place.
“What we did as a strategy was that we were launching search operations on a daily basis. We had inducted special forces into the areas and alongwith intelligence agencies, CRPF and the police, law and order in Hajin was brought under control. Good information started flowing in. This particular area Chandargeer was under watch from a couple of days and yesterday after a specific input, a joint operation was launched and six terrorist were eliminated,” said Lt General J.S. Sandhu, who heads the Srinagar-headquartered 15 Corps of the Army.
Sandhu added, “They were all foreign terrorists led by Mehmood Bhai and comprised of the bulk of the Haijn group. So in effect I would like to highlight that Hajin group has largely been decimated.”
He also informed that One of the militants killed during the encounter was Osama Jangi (Obaid). “He is reportedly the nephew of Lashkar chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and the son of Abdul Rehman Makhi, the Lashkar second in Command,” said Sandhu.
The Director General of Police, S P Vaid said that the operation has cleaned up the area. He also stressed that the valley needs to be freed from violence, terror, gun and drugs.
“This is a turnaround brought by the forces and I compliment them for this operation and we hope very soon we will see Kashmir valley free of violence,” said Vaid.
“Hajin was witness to a lot of terror for the last few months. Fortunately, yesterday’s operation has cleaned up the area and I am sure people would have heaved a sigh of relief and they would live a life without terror,” he added.
Want to come back, call ‘Madadgar’
The forces while reiterating their call for surrender said that local militants, without any fear or hesitation can call the help lines of any agency and join back the mainstream.
Speaking during the presser, the IG (Opeartions), CRPF Zulfikar Hassan said that they have received ‘feelers’ from various places that boys do want to come back but they don’t know how to.
For foreigners, the agencies are very clear. There is no option of surrender for them.
“After the recent surrender of a young footballer Majid Khan, we are entering a phase where a lot of boys want to come back. We want to assure that anyone from the locals, who has joined militancy, can come back. As far as foreigners are considered, very strict action will be continued against them as was done in Hajin,” said Hassan.
He added, “We have got feelers from various places that boys want to come back but they don’t know how to. I would like to inform that CRPF has a helpline by the name of Madadgar. Likewise, the police and the army too has a helpline. This is one way, those boys, without any hesitation or fear can call and we will help them to come back. No harassment will take place. In fact we will help them beyond their expectations.”
“This appeal is from all of us and I hope it will be a success,” Hassan maintained.
He also pointed out that a ‘significant’ number of boys have been weaned and stopped from joining militancy.
“Also, a large number of boys who were ready to join militancy have been weaned away. They have been counselled and other ways have been adopted to stop them from join militant ranks. The number is very significant. It is a very important development this year,” Hassan pointed out.
‘Locals should understand they are Pak proxies not Mujahids’
Invoking the recent statement of Pakistan’s Prime Minster Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that an ‘independent Kashmir’ is not a reality, Lt Sandhu said that the local militants should be wise enough to understand that they are not ‘Mujahids’ but proxies of Pakistan.
“See, the local terrorist must realize that it’s easy to call themselves a Mujahid. But are you really a Mujahid or just a proxy for Pakistan? You know the statement of Pakistani Prime Minister which he gave a few weeks ago,” Sandhu said.
He further added, “So those local terrorists should have the wisdom to realize that it’s better not to be a proxy of Pakistan and come back to the mainstream. This will facilitate peace to return in the valley. That is what the people of Kashmir want, peace. So locals should come back and we are ready to receive them in an honourable way.”
The Commander added that the forces are working on two lines of operations— anti-terror and one wherein they want locals to come back.
“Under the anti-terror operations, we are targeting the terrorists. Simultaneously, we want the local terrorists to return to mainstream. In that case, you would see several actions we have taken lately. Atta, who got injured in the area of Kulgam, was shot in the legs and he was bleeding profusely but we pulled him out. Similarly, Shams-ul-Viqar, he was apprehended near the Qazigund Railway station. And you all are aware of Majid who has just joined back. So want that line of operation where people join back,” Sandhu pointed out.
‘Completely rule out ISIS presence’
Rubbishing the reports that ISIS carried out the Gulabagh attack in Srinagar, the police said that ‘anyone with a black cloth’ doesn’t mean that his allegiance is towards ISIS.
“No, it is yet to be verified. I don’t think ISIS has any presence here,” said DGP Vaid.
IGP Munir Khan seconded and said, “I am ruling it out,” he said in reply to a query whether Mugees Ahmed Mir was affiliated with the ISIS.
“Tehreekul Mujahideen also claimed him so wasn’t he a TeM man then?” Khan said.
“Also by throwing a black cloth on anyone doesn’t mean that he belongs to ISIS,” he said while ruling out any ISIS hand in the attack.
‘People at the right places have to talk about right things’
The Army also informed that around 190 militants were killed in the valley this year out of which 80 were locals. The forces informed that the total number of militants stands at around 210, out of which 110 are locals.
Despite so many operations, why is the number not coming down?
A senior CRPF official said that for that the ‘right people will have to talk about the right things’.
“We are doing what we can do. As far as I understand, to bring down the number, right people, weather in the local government or at the central level, will have to talk about the right things,” he said.
‘Sending in close relatives a justification of being part of the Jihad’
This was for the second time that a close relative of the top leadership was killed in a encounter. Army believes that they might have been questioned by their cadres that why aren’t their families taking part in the ‘Jihad’.
“One of the questions which gets frequently asked to the leaders of handlers in Pakistan, or which should be asked is that you are sending us to Kashmir for the so called Jihad, you own family members are not joining in. So that is one reason they felt that they should send some of their own family members to show that they are also a part of the Jihad,” Sandhu said.
IGP Munir Khan said that it is a motivational factor too.
“It is because of the leadership bankruptcy and they want to motivate their cadres by sending close relatives. Nothing more than that,” Khan said.