Security forces called off a massive day-long cordon and search operation in south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Thursday evening after no contact was made with any militant, the police said.
“We had inputs about the presence of militants and it was a coordinated operation by the police, army and the CRPF,” said deputy inspector general of police, south Kashmir, SP Pani.
An official at the police control room in Shopian said the operation was launched in around 20 villages of the district around 7am after security forces received information about movement of militants there.
In at least two villages, Turkawangan and Sugan, clashes were reported between the personnel and civilians. According to residents, helicopters were seen in the sky and door-to-door searches were conducted.
A Shopian resident told HT over phone, “In Turkawangan village, forces vandalised houses and vehicles after there was stone-pelting in the area in protest against the search operation.”
In the main town of Shopian, he added, vehicles on the roads were searched.
Pani said there were “minimal” protest incidents. “In fact, there was cooperation from locals,” he added.
Pani denied any incidents of vandalism and said the forces followed the standard operating procedure (SOP).
On Wednesday, unidentified gunmen targeted banks in south Kashmir – looting a total of Rs 6.33 lakh from Ellaquai Dehati Bank (EDB) and J-K Bank in Pulwama district in a span of a few hours.
On Tuesday night, suspected militants barged into a court complex in Shopian district and snatched five weapons from the guarding policemen.
The weapon-snatching incident in Shopian came a day after five policemen and two bank guards travelling in a J-K bank van were killed in Kulgam district.
The scale of the operation is being compared to those in the 1990s when militancy in Kashmir was at its peak. Such crackdowns have been a routine at the peak of militancy.
Civilians, mostly men, with their hands raised on their heads had to come out of their houses while security forces would conduct door-to-door searches during those times.
Last year in October, joint teams of the army, police, BSF and CRPF had conducted an extensive search operation in north Kashmir’s Baramulla.