The Sunday (April 1) operations in J&K’s Shopian district, in which 13 local Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed, including top guns Zubair Ahmad Turay at Dragad hamlet and Ishfaq Thokar at Kachdoora village, were the outcome of sustained efforts by the police to trace them. This was the highest number of militants to have been killed within 12 hours in the past two decades. According to police sources, the success, which triggered a mass outpouring of grief over the killings of local youth, including four civilians, has also brought a fair bit of anxiety in its wake. Security agencies fear a revival of the massive protests that had raged for months across the Valley, following the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in south Kashmir’s Kokernag on July 8, 2016. Yet the agencies are hopeful that the Sunday operation will bring down militant recruitment in south Kashmir in the long run, and seriously affect Hizbul Mujahideen’s activities in particular in the short term.
Intelligence gathering over the months preceding the operation had revealed that locally recruited militants had been turning increasingly belligerent and become audacious enough to move around in groups, confident of their ability to break out of any cordon. They also preferred to stay close to their native villages. Most of the militants killed in the past one year in Shopian had been found in or around their native places, or in the villages of their relatives.