Militants struck three times in four hours in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, killing three unarmed policemen and critically injuring two people, in the first multiple attacks in the state since the new government took over.
Barricades were set up across the state and security heightened to stop terrorists from sneaking into sensitive installations amid intelligence reports suggesting high-profile attacks were planned to destabilise the alliance government run by the ideologically-divergent Peoples Democratic Party and the BJP. No militant organisation has claimed responsibility for Monday’s strikes so far.
Officials said the attacks reflected a fresh recruitment of local youth by militants but stopped short of describing the strikes as coordinated. “As of now, we look at them as separate incidents. It’s too early to name outfits behind these attacks,” said director general of police (DGP) K Rajendra.
The first attack happened around noon when terrorists opened fire at a sub-inspector travelling in a bus in north Kashmir's Pattan area, 30 km from Srinagar.
“The policeman was travelling in the same vehicle as the militants. The moment he got down at Mirgund, he was fired at,” the DGP told HT.
Less than two hours later, militants opened fire at three police personnel investigating a case in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, which has remained peaceful so far this year.
“The cops were on their way back to the police station when six militants in army fatigues stopped them. Some civilians were let free but the police personnel were killed,” said Rajendra. The incident took place at Amshipora village, where the policemen had gone to settle a village dispute.
“The cops were not carrying any arms as they were discharging duties as part of normal policing,” the DIG added.
The third attack of the day was at Tral in north Kashmir’s Pulwama district when gunmen stopped a former militant outside a bank and shot him at a close range, critically injuring him. “He was a surrendered militant. He was later working as over-ground worker (for militants) and was detained and released in 2014,” said DIG Rajendra.
The attacks came on a day when chief minister Mufti Mohd Sayeed opened the Tulip Garden on the banks of the Dal Lake expressing the hope that the Valley would see a bumper tourist season this year and to make the numbers “unprecedented”.
Union minister for tourism Mahesh Sharma said on Sunday the Centre will “combat terrorism” in Jammu and Kashmir with tourism and advised Pakistan to mind its own business.
"We will combat terrorism by means of tourism... Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have the dream of taking this paradise on earth to newer heights of peace and development and we will work towards that," he said.
Kashmir Valley has seen decline in militant violence since the beginning of this year but twin terror attacks in Jammu last month left nine people dead and hobbled the state government’s efforts to partially repeal the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act that gives the military sweeping powers to search, arrest or shoot people.
(With inputs from PTI)