Militants in Kashmir valley have resorted to a new modus operandi to create scare and demoralise security personnel: point-blank killings with small weapons.
On Monday, when pistol-wielding militant killed two constables at Srinagar's busy hub Qamarwari, it was fourth such attack in the last three months, which have left nine security personnel dead.
There has been a sudden rise in such attacks. The trend has emerged after suicide attacks or fidayeen attacks have almost come down to nil in the state. There has been no suicide attack in the last one year in Srinagar. Militants have also scaled down grenade attacks at busy markets.
"Whenever militants are under pressure they resort to such things. Militants use sharpshooters to demoralise police and security forces," said IGP Kashmir Farooq Ahmad. "We are investigating it. We will find them and punish them."
The new modus operandi is very tactical. Militants work in two-man or three-men modules, which security agencies call 'Buddy Pair' or 'Small-is-Smart Technique'.
"By constituting such small modules, militants stop leakage. In small modules, interaction circumference remains very limited," said a senior police officer working in the operation. He insisted not to be named given security concerns.
A police officer investigating the Qamarwari incident said it was a two-man module. "The militants dared to come as close as 10 to 15 metres and hit the constables," said the officer. The sharpshooters were in their early twenties. In all such incidents, the militants used silencer-fitted pistols of Chinese make.
These sharp shooters are highly trained and motivated. In one such point-blank killing on August 31, a CRPF jawan was killed while wearing bulletproof jacket. "The sharp shooter came from the behind and shot at the neck," said the police officer. "This shows they are highly trained. It seems they do a recce in advance"
Police claimed to have killed such a sharp shooter of the Hizbul Mujahideen in Pattan area last month. It has asked its personnel to use bulletproof jackets at all strategic points in Srinagar.
What make things difficult for security agencies are impending winters. People use large cloaks called pheran to safe their body from winters. "This will make it easy for militants to smuggle small arms from one place to another," said the police officer.