Sopore’s long phase of silence was not militancy’s end; the militants used the time to prepare for a hard comeback

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Jammu and Kashmir news

For the last few years the rebel apple town of Kashmir was mum on terror and militancy and the Police misconstrued this long silence. When militancy emerged in the early 90s, Sopore became its pride.  The Sopore town of North Kashmir was now a representative of conservative politics of Kashmir. The frequent attacks in the recent months have once again intensified the town as a rebellious new outfit is challenging the writ of separatism’s veteran guard by carrying out unprecedented attacks on the telecom sector.

A senior official in the police’s intelligence wing said that the silence was misunderstood by the department as the militants maintained a low profile for over four years. The long phase of silence was perceived wrongly and everybody thought that the militancy is over but it was not. The militants were working hard on their comeback and they did manage to hit back hard. Between 2009 and 2011, the militants operating in Sopore sub-district had come under a relentless assault of security forces and Sopore was declared an independent police district in January 2010. Over 40 militants were killed by security forces in the town in the subsequent 18 months.

The town entered a phase of lengthy calm giving an impression of contained militancy but this lull was used by the militants to identify the information network of security agencies. In these four years, the intelligence and security agencies managed to access very narrow share of information of the movement or hideouts of Abdul Qayoom Najar, region’s most wanted militant. The absence also led the agencies to think that the Sopore militant might even have escaped to Pakistan.

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Najar is a resident of Sopore and is one of the most wanted militants of the region. After joining militancy in the early or mid 1990s, he masterminded a series of attacks on the telecom sector which even caused a temporary shutdown of mobile services across the valley. The militant outfit that carried out the attacks- Lashakar e Islam is believed to be a creation of Najar and several other militants of north Kashmir after rebelling against their parent outfit- Hizbul Mujahideen.  The terror outfit is also involved in the killing of four individuals with links to separatism and who were accused by the group of working with security agencies.  Najar’s role was later also confirmed by his former organization, Hizbul, which suspended his membership in a statement to media.

After a series of killings carried out by the group disturbed the police’s information gathering network and also scared the counter insurgency grid’s human intelligence network in the town and adjoining villages. The counter insurgency grid in Kashmir had been facing a renewed challenge from home grown militants in the last few months, where officials claimed that nearly 60 youths have joined militancy this year in North Kashmir where Lashkar e Islam is actively functioning and luring youth through social media means.

 

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