Anti-militancy operations continue in Kashmir amid COVID-19
The increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases in Kashmir has had very little impact on militancy. Over the last 24 hours, nine militants and three soldiers were killed in two separate gun battles across the southern and northern parts of the Valley.
While Jammu and Kashmir has been reeling under a total lockdown since March 24 as part of the government's nationwide lockdown to contain COVID-19, the graph of militant and civilian deaths has shot up significantly.
Over the last 24 hours, nine militants and three soldiers were killed in two separate gun battles across the southern and northern parts of the Valley.
Early on Saturday morning, a joint team of the army's 34 RR, CRPF and SOG men ring-fenced Khur-Batpora village in south Kashmir's Kulgam district and launched a search operation.
When the forces reached near a suspected spot, the militants hiding there unleashed a fusillade of bullets at them. The forces retaliated and killed four militants.
In another ongoing operation, five militants and three soldiers have been killed in north Kashmir's Keran sector on Sunday.
Srinagar based Army's defence spokesperson Col. Rajesh Kalia said that the militants were attempting to infiltrate into Kashmir. "One of the soldiers was killed and two others received injuries in the operation", Kalia said, adding that the injured soldiers later died of their injuries.
The infiltration starts in the month of April as the snow begins receding and peaks in June and July. Most of the arduous mountain passes open up during this season and it becomes easy for militants to sneak into Kashmir from across the Line of Control.
Coronavirus and anti-militancy operations
The soaring number of CVID-19 cases have hardly had an impact on the anti-militancy operations. Jammu and Kashmir has thus far logged as many as 106 positive cases.
The security forces have continued the cordon and search operations in the Valley to contain the militancy in the region.
Since March 24, when Prime Minister Modi announced the nationwide lockdown, about two dozen-odd search operations were launched by the security forces, largely in southern parts of the Valley.
In the last week of February this year, police chief Dilbag Singh said that the number of militants active in Kashmir has come down to 240-250. He said that 25 militants were killed in a string of encounters during the first two months of the year.
A senior police official, who declined to be named in this report, said that security personnel were taking full precautions during the search operations given the upswing in the number of COVID-19 cases. "They use masks and gloves while conducting the search operation", he added.
There has also been a sudden spurt in civilian killings since last month. At least five persons have been pumped with lead by unknown militants thus far.
On March 21, anonymous militants killed a youth in Yaripora village of district Kulgam, some 53 km south of Srinagar. Six days later another young man from the Redwani village of the same district was shot dead by militants. On April 1, militants struck the same district again and killed two more civilians in the Nadimarg hamlet. A day later, militants similarly killed a man in Larkipora village of the neighbouring Anantnag district.