An alert has been issued to Jammu and Kashmir policemen as militants stepped up weapon-snatching attacks and cop killings in the Kashmir Valley. The police fear that militant sleeper cells are trying to revive militancy in the city, but are short of weapons.
The fresh directive, asking cops to patrol in buddy pairs at busy markets and remain alert, comes a day after militants attacked a cop with an axe and decamped with his weapon.
Unidentified militants on Saturday afternoon rounded up constable Firdous Ahmad Baba in north Kashmir's Pattan area, 30 km away from here, and hit him on head and neck, leaving him critically injured.
"We are ascertaining if it was a militant attack or not", said deputy inspector general of police, North Kashmir, Ghulam Hassan Bhat.
In a similar attack, militants barged into the house of a judge in the city's Qamarwari area on Thursday morning around 2 am and disarmed the guard on duty. They later fled from the spot along with the service rifle, two magazines and 60 rounds. The district and sessions judge, Sujat Ali Khan, a resident of Qamarabad, was inside the house when the militants raided it.
In another abortive bid earlier on Thursday, gunmen fired at a hospital guard when he was buying medicine from a shop. Though no weapon was snatched, the police are investigating if it was an attempt to disarm the guard.
The security agencies are resisting from describing it as a trend but acknowledge that "a few militants groups are trying to revive sleeper cells in the city and have dearth of weapons because of heightened vigil on the border".
Incidentally, only the state cops are target of militants in the last few weeks.
On July 26, a cop was killed at a market in south Kashmir's Bijbehara area. Another cop was killed in a grenade attack on the intervening night of 26-27 in north Kashmir's Sopore area.
Militancy has been receding in Kashmir. However, a fresh impetus has come this year with Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen succeeding, according to security agencies, in recruiting locals.