January 2019 News

'Baramulla First Militancy-free District': J-K Police Day After Encounter

24 January 2019
The Hindustan Times
Mir Ehsan

Srinagar: With the killing of three local Lashkar militants in Baramulla, the Jammu and Kashmir police have declared that strategic police district of North Kashmir free from militancy. It is the first district in Kashmir where there is no surviving militant. Officials say that Lashkar commander Shuiab Akhoon and his two associates, Mohsin Mushtaq and Nisar Darzi, were the last of the listed militants in Baramulla. The police were chasing them for past six months. They had zeroed in on them earlier as well but the trio managed to give police a slip. 'The Baramulla police district is now without any surviving militant. These three were last active militants operating in Baramulla and affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba,' a senior police officer said. 'We were after this group for past several months. At one time when we arrested their associates at Baramulla but they managed to give us a slip,' he said. J&K Police spokesperson said, 'There is no surviving militant as on date,' he said. J&K Director General of Police(DGP) Dilbag Singh also complimented police for making the district militancy-free. The three militants on Wednesday were trapped in an underground hideout at a village orchard eight kilometres from Baramulla town. Of the three militants, Akhoon, 23, had joined militancy in 2017 and was pivotal in getting Mushtaq and Darzi into militancy. The three were neighbours. The slain militants didn't heed the calls from their parents to return their homes and shun militancy. Akhoon's another associate Aqil, who was also his neighbour from Khanpora locality was killed in an encounter with the security forces in October last year at Athoora Kreeri along with other militant of Sopore. Akhoon was a second-year student, when he joined militancy. His family says that Akhoon was being frequently arrested by police which forced him to pick up the gun. He first went missing on November 17 when his father Farooq Ahmad was taking him to Humhuma police station as they were looking for him. Police said that Akhoon went to Pakistan on a passport two years ago and had received arms training at Lashkar-e-Taiba camp, and when police started questioning him, he joined militancy. Akhoon had a realeased a video last year, ahead of the panchayat and local body elections, asking people of North Kashmir to stay away from the polls else they would have to face consequences. In early 2000s, a group of 13 foreign militants sneaked into Baramulla town and remained active for a year before they were killed in a series of encounters. 'Baramulla is close to the LoC and it's not a big deal that militants can make a comeback in the district or town. The separatist have good base and network in the district. The peace will return only if India and Pakistan will talk to each other,' said Suhail Ahmad a political analyst. Baramulla is a strategic district with the headquarters of army's 19 Infantry Division which overlooks the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri, Gulmarg and Nowgam in North Kashmir. The Baramulla is also the district where separatists have good support base especially in the old Baramulla town which was once a hub of local militants. However, this is not the first instance when a district or town in Kashmir has been declared militancy-free. Previously, Kulgam was declared militancy-free during Omar Abdullah's tenure as chief minister. The Abdullah government had then advocated lifting of the AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) from Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal as there were no active militants at these places.