None willing to take up JeM leadership in Valley: Army

Top police, Army and CRPF officials at a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Shakeel
Top police, Army and CRPF officials at a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday. —Excelsior/Shakeel

Pak militant trained by Lakhvi arrested

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, Apr 24: Lt Gen K J S Dhillon today said after the Pulwama terror attack the security forces launched an offensive against the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in the Valley, resulting in a situation where no one is willing to take up the leadership of the outfit.
“Forty-one militants were killed. Twenty-five of them belonged to JeM. Thirteen were foreign terrorists — Pakistanis and category A plus and above,” said Lt Gen Dhillon, at a joint press briefing accompanied by Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh and Inspector General, CRPF, Zulfiqar Hassan at the Police Control Room here.

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“We targeted the JeM leadership and the situation now is such that there is no one willing to take up the leadership of the JeM in the Valley. In spite of Pakistan’s best efforts, we will continue to suppress the JeM,” Lt Gen Dhillon, who is the Commander of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, said.
DGP Singh said 2018 and the year so far had been successful in containing militancy in the Valley, barring stray incidents, including the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
“This year, stone-pelting and law and order engagements reduced drastically. We did face some law and order situations during counter-insurgency operations, but those have been fewer than before,” Singh said.
He said the recruitment of local youths into militancy has dipped. “That is a very healthy sign. There were very large-scale successes in counter-insurgency operations. Two-seventy-two terrorists were neutralised in 2018 and many were apprehended,” he said, adding “we stopped a very big number of youths from joining the wrong path (militancy).”
The State’s top cop said militants killed last year included many commanders of JeM and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
“A total of 46 foreign militants have been killed last year and in the current year — 27 belonged from JeM and 19 from LeT. Foreign elements getting neutralised has made a big dent to the ongoing militancy,” he said.
The DGP said the successes during the current year have been quite commendable and troops on the ground have done a very good job.
He also said planning by the officers led to smooth conduct of the first three phases of the Parliamentary polls.
“Around 70 militants have been neutralised and a large number have been apprehended. The law and order has been generally under control. We haven’t experienced much law and order problems during this election — the three phases of which are over. Minor issues have been there, but there has not been poll-related violence as experienced in 2017 because of very good planning by the officers on the ground. We do hope the rest of the two phases pass off peacefully,” he said. Elections will be held in the State on April 29 and May 6 as part of phases 4 and 5.
Stating the LeT in Hajin area of Bandipora district killed an innocent 13-year boy during an encounter with the security forces, Lieutenant General Dhillon asked the people whether it was ‘jehad’ (holy war) or ‘jehalat’ (barbarism).
Lt Gen Dhillon said operations against militants in the hinterland and along the Line of Control will continue with full vigour and they will not let terrorism rise to the serious levels as before.
He said the biweekly ban on civilian traffic on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was a “temporary measure”.
The DGP said after the last two phases of the elections were completed, the traffic ban will be reviewed.
“I think it is under review by the Government and after the two phases of elections in south Kashmir are over, more relaxation is expected,” he said.
When asked about fewer encounters taking place after the polls commenced, Singh said the operations are on, but the engagements have lessened as the security forces’ focus is on the peaceful conduct of elections.
Referring to the poll percentage in the first leg of the poll in south Kashmir, he said the poll percentage was a reflection of the prevailing situation.
“A percentage of around 13 per cent is good considering the situation in south Kashmir. People showed courage and voted despite threats. It is everyone’s right and no one can be forced to vote either,” he said.
The DGP said a militant was arrested from Bathinda area of Jammu in connection with a blast in Banihal earlier this month.
“He is linked to the Banihal blast case and is being investigated. We will share further details with you later,” Singh said.
He said the security forces take every input about militant attack seriously.
“We spend sleepless nights, that is our job. We spend more sleepless nights these days because of inputs. These inputs cannot be ignored and we take them very seriously,” he said.
Urging local militants to shun the path of violence to lead a normal and peaceful life, Dilbag and Lt General KJS Dhillon said the number of local youths joining militancy and stone pelting incidents have witnessed drop in the Kashmir valley.
There is a considerable drop in the number of local youths joining militancy which is a positive trend, said Singh and Lt Gen Dhillon.
They said the number of stone pelting incidents has also witnessed major drop which too is a positive sign.
Lt Gen Dhillon urged local militants to drop the gun and join the national mainstream to lead a normal and peaceful life.
Meanwhile, a Pakistani terrorist, who was indoctrinated and trained by 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, was arrested from Baramulla district police said here today.
Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist Mohammad Waqar Awan, who was tasked with reviving militancy in certain areas of the Kashmir valley, was arrested earlier this week and paraded before the media today at the Police Control Room.
Awan, a resident of Mohalla Miana in Mianwali area of Punjab in Pakistan, was indoctrinated by Lakhvi at his residence in Rawalpindi, officials said.
The initial arms training to the Pakistani terrorist was also given by Lakhvi, who along with six others has been charged by the Pakistani authorities with planning and executing the Mumbai attacks in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.
Lakhvi is currently on bail, and the case is moving very slowly.
Awan, known by alias of “Chota Dujana”, told reporters that before he joined militancy, he was told that atrocities were being inflicted on the people of Kashmir by security forces but he saw no such thing in the Valley.
“I received training for four months at a camp in Muzaffarabad. I was told that atrocities are committed on children and women. Prayers are not allowed in mosques and houses of Muslims are destroyed,” he told reporters, adding he found that the conditions were different in Kashmir.
Police officials said Awan’s arrest and “confession” is ‘live evidence’ for Pakistan as to how youths are manipulated on its soil, prepared for militancy and then sent here to join Jaish-e-Mohammad or Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Asked if he was involved in any attacks in the valley, Awan said, “I was not involved in any attack.”
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Baramulla, Abdul Qayoom said, Awan had infiltrated into the Valley in July 2017.
“He was active in Handwara (area of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district). For the last about two years, he was active in different places of Srinagar. When he was returning to Baramulla, he was intercepted at a naka (check post). However, the driver of his vehicle rammed it into police vehicle and sped away.
“The police chased them and about 1.5 km away from the naka, they left their vehicle on the road and tried to flee, but were apprehended. The driver, a conduit, is a Kashmiri. We will share further details when we have them,” the SSP said at the press conference.
Qayoom said Awan’s primary task was to revive militancy in those areas which had been declared militancy-free.
“We had this input that since Baramulla was declared free of militancy, they (militant leadership) were under pressure to revive the militancy there and that is why these two were going to Baramulla,” he said.
He said a pistol and some other things were recovered from the Pakistani militant when he was arrested.
Asked about Awan’s activities in Srinagar, the SSP said he mostly visited areas around Srinagar-Baramulla highway and few areas in downtown the interior areas of the city here.
“We are identifying and pinpointing more people involved with him,” Qayoom said.
Director General of Police Dilbag Singh, who also briefed the media, said Awan’s “confession” is evidence of how Pakistan is sending youths here for militancy.
Pakistan always wants some live evidence. Police will share that evidence. A Pakistani militant is here since the last two years and an active member of LeT and involved in many activities.
“His coming in front of you (reporters) and sharing the details, is live evidence for Pakistan as to how they ready the youth there for militancy and send them here for joining Jaish-e-Mohammad or Lashkar-e-Toiba,” Singh said.