HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Militants short of weapons, take to snatching

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, April 23, 2014
First Published: 13:02 IST(23/4/2014) | Last Updated: 20:38 IST(23/4/2014)

Security agencies are facing a tricky situation in Kashmir, as ground reports suggest poor arms availability for fresh local recruits of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is forcing the militant outfit to resort to weapon snatching from security personnel.

Sources said security agencies have issued a high-alert to patrolling troops, particularly J&K police, asking them to be vigilant as militants might try to over power and disarm them.

This year, militants have carried out five point-blank attacks in south Kashmir and snatched weapons, including SLRs, from policemen.

On April 15, Lashkar’s operational commander Qasim Bhai got the ruling National Conference leader Yawar Masoodi attacked at Khrew. Though they succeeded in decamping with the weapons, an alert army killed them in nearby fields in a brief encounter.

The director general of police Ashok Prasad described the attack as “apparently aimed at the policemen guarding the house of NC leader”.

The two slain militants, both foreigners, were working at the behest of Qasim and other LeT commanders Showkat Ahmed Tak, Irshad Ahmed Ganaie, Bilal Molvi and Sajad Bhat.

The killed militants were part of several buddy-pairs formed by LeT and assigned to amass weapons -- by surprise attacks on security forces - to be handed over to fresh recruits.

“There are reports that new recruits are handed over pistols and asked to arrange weapons on their own,” said a police source.

The LeT has recruited around two dozen locals from south Kashmir in the runup to polls. But the supply of weapons, smuggled into the Valley from north Kashmir’s frontier areas close to Pakistanoccupied Kashmir, has dried up because increased vigilance on borders.

The choking of supply lines has got the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba to workin tandem in south Kashmir, said sources.

According to police data, there are around 130 active militants in Kashmir. Of which, 11 joined the militant ranks following the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

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