Over two dozen terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir Police’s cross-hairs

Over two dozen terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir Police’s cross-hairs

The Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police have a fresh list of over two dozen most wanted terrorist to be targeted and neutralized, officials at security agencies said on condition of anonymity, adding that the names include members of terrorist organisations Hizbul Mujahedeen, Lashkar-e Taiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The terrorists are being be targeted by a repurposed Special Operations Group or SoG. This is an elite anti-insurgency force of the Jammu and Kashmir Police. It was set up in 1994.

On top of SoG’s most wanted list are Hizbul commanders, Riaz Ahmed Naikoo and Abdul Rehman, and Mohammed Saleem of the Lashkar-e- Taiba, one security agency official said. Naikoo and Rehman have been in the crosshairs of the Indian Army and the J&K police for some time now. A terrorist who is identified only by his code name, Abu Saad, has also been included in the list, a second official added.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, (MHA) which supervises the J&K police has“re-purposed the Special Operations Group (SoG), the first official said. SoG units in each district of Jammu and Kashmir have been handed over a list of one or two terrorists they need to track and “target single-mindedly,” the second official said. Along with SoG, security agencies operating in Jammu and Kashmir have also been given the names of individual terrorists whom they have to target and neutralize. The targets are being assigned on the basis of the known area of operation and movement of the terrorist.

Assigning individual targets is a change from how agencies have gone about dealing with terrorists in the region. “Groups have been assigned to follow the target single-mindedly without being distracted,” a senior Indian Army official said.

“This is a fresh emphasis that is being given to clean up terrorists, which is a good thing,” former DGP of Jammu and Kashmir, JK Vaid said, explaining the repurposing of the SoG.

The new approach has turned in some early successes. For instance, on October 16, Hamid Lelhari, who succeeded Zakir Musa as the chief of the Ansar Ghazwat-ul- Hind, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Jammu and Kashmir, was killed in an encounter along with two of associates. Hameed Lelhari took over as the commander after Zakir Musa’s death in May .

The government has maintained that terror-related incidents are showing a declining trend in the region, especially since August 5, when the state of Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status and divided into two Union Territories. Government data indicates that fewer young people are joining terror groups. For instance, last month, only six locals joined terror groups according to data with the Army— a two year low. According to government data, in October 2018, as many as 14 young men joined terror groups. Similarly, terrorism-related incidents have also shown a dip in comparison to previous months. As per government data, there were 28 terrorist-related incidents last month as against 39 terror-related incidents in October 2018. The number of terror-related incidents in October 2019 was, however, higher than September 2019 when only 12 terror-related incidents were reported.

Security agencies, however, say they are facing a tough time. Since August 5, when telecom and internet connectivity was snapped, there has been a major drop in technical intelligence. “The drop in technical intelligence is as much as 40-50%,” a second senior Indian Army officer said.

Click to Read Original Article