130 militants active; Kashmir parties to hold rallies at designated venues only
With militants replenishing their ranks to around 130 armed and active men in the Kashmir Valley, the security establishment has secretly passed on dos and don'ts to all mainstream political parties for their poll campaigns.india Updated: Mar 27, 2014 19:43 IST
With militants replenishing their ranks to around 130 armed and active men in the Kashmir Valley, the security establishment has secretly passed on dos and don'ts to all mainstream political parties for their poll campaigns.
Top police sources told the Hindustan Times that all political heavyweight candidates like Mehboob Beg of the ruling National Conference (NC), contesting from Anantnag constituency, opposition Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Mehbooba Mufti, contesting from Baramulla and Anantnag constituencies, respectively, have been asked to follow newly-formulated security guidelines for the elections.
The security forces have decided to allow public rallies only at designated locations in the south and north Kashmir's parliamentary constituencies. These venues are well-secured ones.
No fresh venue can be proposed by the political parties except for those approved by the security agencies given the militant presence and threat perception on the ground.
The police have asked the parties to intimate the security grid six days prior to holding any public rallies or meetings.
"The shortest notice period is only four days. It takes a lot of time to sanitise venues, particularly in sensitive areas of north and south Kashmir," said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.
Mehbooba Mufti's public meeting at Anantnag last week was held under several layers of security as south Kashmir is emerging a major security threat this year.
"There are 130 militants active in the valley," inspector general of police (IGP) Abdul Ghani Mir told the HT.
However, he said, the police have "an upper hand after successful operations in south Kashmir".
At least 23 militants were killed in first three months this year. While 14 were killed in north Kashmir, seven were gunned down in south Kashmir. Two militants were killed in otherwise peaceful central Kashmir's Budgam district. Two dozen militants have been apprehended so far.
The real threat emerges from the fact that presence of local militants has gone up this year against the perception on the ground that foreign militants will add up their numbers. Police sources admit that several local militants remain unlisted, with recycling of former militants posing a challenge.
There are more than 15,000 surrendered militants in the state.
"Around 11 local boys have joined militant ranks after the hanging of (Parliament attack convict Afzal) Guru," admitted IGP Mir.
The police have already rounded up 376 people under the preventive measures. At least 957 non-bailable warrants have been executed, 171 hamlets identified as vulnerable and 143 people unidentified as probable source of trouble.
Jammu and Kashmir, with six Lok Sabha seats, is going to polls in five phases from April 10 to May 7.