Operation Flush Out: 4000 Troops, 20 Villages And A Massive Anti-Terror Op In Shopian
The cordon and search operation (CASO) followed intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, including foreign terrorists, in the area.
A massive anti-terror operation was launched in Kashmir’s Shopian district to clear the area of terrorists after a recent rise in terror attacks and videos showing terrorists moving freely in the area.
Helicopters and drones circled the air and more than 4,000 troops fanned out across south Kashmir's Shopian district.
However, a civilian was killed and two jawans were injured when terrorists ambushed an army patrol on its way back. According to officials, the man who died was the driver of a private vehicle that was requisitioned for the operation.
The biggest anti-militancy operation in Kashmir in recent years, described by a police officer as ‘unprecedented’, began in the early hours of the morning with security forces, comprising army, police and CRPF, marching into more than a dozen villages in the district.
Door-to-door search of houses, a practice stopped in the late 1990s, was re-introduced on Thursday. The troops asked all villagers to assemble in a common area so a proper search of their homes could be carried out.
"We do not wish to have any civilian casualty and the measure was therefore required," said a senior army official engaged in the operation.
The cordon and search operation (CASO) followed intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, including foreign terrorists, in the area, an official said. However, no contact had been established with the militants so far.
Residents in at least three villages resisted the operation and came out to protest with stones. But the demonstrations were quelled with tear smoke. There were no injuries.
Aiding the security forces, which included a team of concealed anti terrorists (CAT), on the ground were drones providing real-time intelligence to the troops.
After carrying out a search operation, security forces carried out a 'reverse sweep' of the entire region once again in order to ensure that none of the militants had slipped in after the earlier cordon ended.
Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat, however, said it was a "regular operation" conducted to "make sure that the situation is brought under control" in the Kashmir Valley where a spate of anti-government protests has rattled the government.
"Every day we do it. There is nothing new. Today's operation is happening because banks have been looted and police personnel have been killed," Gen Rawat said in New Delhi.
The operation comes four days after militants killed seven people, including five policemen, in adjoining Kulgam.
Shopian and its neighbouring Kulgam district have turned out to be new breeding ground for militants since last year after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.
Last week, at least two video clips appeared on social networking sites with gun toting militants in battle fatigues marching in apple orchards in what appeared to be the landscape of Shopian.
Bank robberies were also committed in the south Kashmir district -- home to some 266,000 people.