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With Sopore encounter, focus back to OGWs; police say 76 arrested this year

The Jammu and Kashmir Police released these details on Monday, after the killing of three LeT commanders, including one of the most wanted terrorists Mudasir Pandit, in Sopore.
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUN 22, 2021 10:22 AM IST
Security forces personnel are seen in Sopore, where three terrorists were killed in an encounter on Monday.(PTI Photo)

At least 112 terrorists and Over Ground Workers (OGWs) have been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir in the first six months of 2021, according to the police. Of this, OGWs form a major chunk with 76 of them arrested.

The highest number of OGWs has been arrested in Awantipora (17), followed by Anantnag (12) and Bandipora (12), the police further said. The statistics show the pressure being faced by these supporters of terrorists who provide them with logistical support, cash and shelter.

These OGWs have also been involved in bank robberies and killing of civilians, the police said. Most of them have been working for Pakistan-based terror groups, like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which send their operatives to create mayhem in the valley.

The police released these details on Monday, after the killing of three LeT commanders, including one of the most wanted terrorists Mudasir Pandit, in Sopore. These terrorists were part of the group involved in several terror-related cases, said the police.

The two aides of Pandit - Pakistan national and LeT commander Abdullah alias Asrar and Khurshid Mir - who were also killed, had more than two dozen cases registered against them.

They were involved in killing of two municipal councillors and one police personnel at the municipal office in Sopore in March this year and attack on fruit merchants at Dangerpora in September, 2019, according to the police. Four civilians were injured in the 2019 attack.

These attacks, which came after the Centre's move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status in August 2019, stuck fears in the hearts of apple traders. The Union territory's administration had to step in and provide security to the traders, and help them in selling their produce.

There were 18 cases registered against Pandit alone, who was the Lashkar commander since June 2019. He was involved in the killing of nine security forces personnel and three local body (panchayat) members. Pandit also used to threaten and intimidate people, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said.

Among the other two terrorists, four FIRs were registered against Asrar, a resident of Pakistan. He was involved in two attacks on security forces and killings of three cops, the police said. He had been a commander of the LeT since 2018.

Khurshid Mir, the third terrorist eliminated on Monday, carried out two grenade attacks and was involved in the killing of five civilians. There were six FIRs registered against him, according to the police.

Director General of Police J&K, Dilbagh Singh said on Monday that the operation wasn't only a big success but an important one. He also said that a "good number" of foreign militants are present in the valley, but are "lying low" and "keeping a distance".

General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Army's Kilo Force Major General H S Sahi said this was the second such instance in the valley in recent times where local militants were found to be accompanied by Pakistani ultras.

"This is a big network nexus that exists, which is a cause of concern. This nexus needs to be broken and destroyed so that there is no hurdle in the peace and development of Jammu and Kashmir," Major General Sahi said.

The joint operation was launched by the army, Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) after the attack on police in Sopore on June 12, in which two policemen and two civilians were killed.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police further said that taking into account Monday's gunbattle, as many as 53 terrorists have been killed so far this year. Out of these, 45 were local and two foreigners. The police also said that 112 terrorists and Over Ground Workers (OGWs) have been arrested in the first six months of 2021.

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