Army deploys Brigade in South Kashmir to restore peace, counter militancy

Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar, Sept 14:  Army has deployed one Brigade in the restive South Kashmir to help civil administration in restoring peace and countering militancy that has shown considerable increase in the area.
Sources said that Brigade has been headquartered at Victor Force Headquarters of army at Awantipora in district Pulwama and its three battalions will be mostly deployed in the areas in the foothills of mountains and at places where from it was withdrawn a decade back after improvement in the situation.
The Brigade was shifted to South Kashmir from Jammu region. South Kashmir will have now four Brigades of Army. The other three Brigades are based at Khanabal in Anantnag, Balpora in Shopian and Wazoor, Qazigund in Kulgam district.
A senior Army officer said that the troops for the Brigade have arrived and they are being deployed in the areas which were shadow zones. He said that these troops will assist the civil administration in restoring peace and normalcy in South Kashmir and area domination besides countering militancy.
South Kashmir has been epicenter of the violence in the aftermath of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. The area is witnessing continuous protests and violence failed to die down. They Army will assist with administration in the area to contain the protests and tackle the militancy.
One more battalion, the headquarter battalion, of Trehgam based Brigade has also arrived in Kupwara.  It may be mentioned here that the Trehgam based 68 Mountain Brigade in district Kupwara was deployed at Shamshabari Range to strengthen the counter-infiltration grid in Keran and Macchil sectors along the LoC which is frequently used by militants for infiltration.
Few groups of militants who infiltrated into North Kashmir this year from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) have shifted to South Kashmir taking advantage of unrest. They have made basis in South Kashmir and hideouts in forests and this Brigade will strengthen the Army in the area.
These militants have also made local recruitments and, as per sources, around 100 new recruitments have been made this year with around 30 made prior to the outbreak of large scale violence after the killing of Burhan Wani.
The militant groups have also developed a vast network of Over Ground Workers (OGWs) in the area, who will help them in carrying out reconnaissance and providing logistics.
The need for deploying two Brigades of Army in Kashmir has arisen after increased infiltration this year and reports of around 500 militants waiting on the LoC for infiltration and continued unrest in Kashmir that has claimed 80 lives. According to official figures, this year, 72 militants have infiltrated into Kashmir till July while sources said the figure is double than the official.

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