Under Pressure From Forces, Militants Target J&K Civilians4 August 2011
Srinagar: Militants have resorted to old tricks of soft target killings to instill fear among the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Over two dozen civilians have been killed by the ultras so far this year in Jammu and Kashmir. The killings have evoked feeble condemnation from separatists at times and most of the times they have gone unnoticed. Take for instance 28-year-old labourer Muhammad Ashraf Dar who was killed by suspected militants in Sopore and his bullet-ridden body was recovered the next morning. Dar had been engaged just one week ago and had been preparing for his marriage. “He was home last night and spoke to someone on the phone. Later he went out and family heard some gunshots but no one came out. Next day his body was found,' said a local resident. According to officials, over two dozen civilians have been killed by militants this year in the state. Data given by police sayse at least 19 civilians have been killed by militants so far in valley alone this year. Sopore tops the list with five followed by Srinagar and Kupwara with four killings each. J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah’s assembly consituency of Ganderbal has witnessed two civlian killings so far this year. So far, Baramulla, Shopian, Awantipora and Budgam have witnessed one killing each. “We are comfortably placed in terms of militancy on all parameters except for civilian deaths. Last year the number was 22 and this year it is 23. There is marked decline in all the parameters. Like I said there is no room for complacency,” said Abdullah. Police said given the huge setback suffered by the ultras at the hands of security forces, they are resorting to dirty tricks to stay in the game. “There seems to be no logic to these killings by militants which have happened in a series. Actually they are under tremendous pressure after their leadership has been eliminated,” said a top police officer. For the last two months security forces have achieved major success in the war against terror. More than seven top commanders of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad have been killed by the security forces in north Kashmir last month. The slain ultras have been identified as Saqib alias Sohail of Kasur in Pakistan, divisional commander of LeT for North Kashmir, Hamad alias Haneef alias Alfa Islam, divisional commander for Kupwara, hailing from Abbottabad in Pakistan. Others were identified as Qari Saifullah, divisional Commander central Kashmir, Chotta Saad, battalion commander of LeT and Umair alias Hafiz, battalion commander, of Jaish-e-Mohammad. Earlier in June, another top Lashkar Commander Zebran was killed by the Army in the jungles of Rajwar-Handwara.