Security forces have gone very forcefully after the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant outfit in the wake of February 14 Pulwama attack and have succeeded in eliminating its leadership in Kashmir, a top Army officer said on Monday (March 11).
General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, Lt General KJS Dhillon, told a press conference that the security forces have killed 18 militants, including JeM’s second-in-command, over 21 days.
“We have gone very forcefully after the JeM, and we have reasonably succeeded in our aim of eliminating them at the earliest so that they are not able to carry out a Pulwama-like attack,” he said.
Of the 18 militants killed, 14 belonged to JeM including its “six main commanders”, the Lt. General flanked by IGP Kashmir S P Pani and IG Central Reserve Police Force(CRPF) Zulfiqar Hassan, said.
“We have also eliminated JeM’s second-in-command Mudasir Khan, the main conspirator in the attack on a CRPF convoy on February 14. He was active for more than a year,” he said.
He added that of the militants killed, eight were from Pakistan and 10 were locals, including two each of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Our emphasis after the February 14 attack has been on elimination of the JeM leadership and we have been very successful in doing that in about three weeks since the attack The leadership of the JeM has been hit very badly,” he said.
However, the Army officer said, it does not mean the forces have stopped “looking at the LeT or Hizb. They are very much on our radar”.
Dhillon said operations against foreign militants and the JeM leadership will continue “till we eliminate all of them”. Asked if there were more suicide bombers active in the valley, Dhillon said: “We are aware and keeping a track of all such modus operandi. We are prepared for it and are taking corrective measures.”
Referring to the encounter in Pinglish area of Tral, the IG CRPF said it was “doubly” significant for the paramilitary force as Mudasir was involved in the 2017 Lethpora camp attack as well.
“It was a clean operation, but our job is not done yet. Very important players in the dramatis personae still remain – the people who motivated and radicalised Mudasir, those who gave him explosives and other means to carry out these attacks. We are working in close coordination with the NIA,” he said.
IGP Kashmir said Mudasir lured youths into militancy.
“Initial inputs about Mudasir started surfacing a year ago and subsequently, he joined JeM. The operations over the last fortnight have caused a lot of damage to the outfit,” he said.
Pani said the militant recruitment in the last three months has also come down significantly. Also, participation in funeral processions of militants has reduced.
“Of course, there are miscreants who try to do these things, but police are keeping a watch,” Pani said.
Asked if Mudasir made the IED used in the Pulwama attack, Lt General Dhillon said as the main conspirator, he helped and coordinated the attack, “but it is a matter of investigation whether he himself made the IED”.
About ceasefire violations along the LoC, the army officer said Pakistan has been targeting civilians as it cannot hit military. “Ceasefire violations have been going on in the Uri sector.
However, no such incident has taken place in the recent past in other areas of the valley. Kamalkote in Uri has come under tremendous fire from the Pakistani side. Five civilians were injured yesterday.
“Pakistan has not been able to hit the army (targets), so it is hitting civilians. But, the Indian Army has given a befitting reply and we have hit their military targets,” he said.
The Lt. General said there are intelligence reports that militants were waiting in the launch pads across the LoC to infiltrate “whenever they get a chance”. He, however, said “we are alert to it”.