Civilian Interference Helped 25 Militants Escape Unhurt: Report

SRINAGAR: A week after Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, said that forces in Kashmir will respond “ruthlessly” to protesters who try to disrupt anti-militancy operations, a top security official from J&K has said that since 2016 civilian interference has helped 25 militants escape from encounter sites.

“We have had a dozen incidents since 2016 in the Valley where 25 militants have managed to escape because of stone pelting and protests by civilians at the encounter sites. We believe that the dreaded Lashkar-e-Toiba (militant) Abu Dujana was trapped in at least two of these operations and managed to escape,” The Indian Expressreported on Thursday quoting an unnamed police official.

The report said that in May last year, four militants escaped when a crowd of 500 civilians started stone pelting during an operation in Balapur. Three militants escaped at Frisal earlier this month when civilian protesters, including women and children, surrounded the encounter site.

“The number of militants killed by security forces in J&K in 2017 has doubled over those killed in each of the past two years during the same period. This year, 23 militants have been killed so far while only 10 militants were killed during the same period in 2016 and 2015,” the report added.

“The increase in the number of militants killed is due to their movement from higher ranges to populated areas of the Valley following the heavy snowfall this year. We have carried out specific intelligence-based operations against the militants in the villages,” the official said.

The official said that because of the heavy snowfall, there have been no attempts at infiltration from across LoC this year.

According to the J&K state Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) data, more than 90 local youths have joined militancy since last year, mostly in South Kashmir.

MAC estimates that there are around 400 militants in South Kashmir, 150 of them foreign and 250 local.

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