Heightened militant movement in Bijbehara, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s hometown, has been keeping security agencies on their toes for the last more than two months.
They had been actively moving around the town over the past couple of months. The SSP said the movement of militants increased considerably at any place in case they had locals among their ranks.
Militant presence was not new for the security grid in Kashmir. Given the new-found political importance and strategic location of the town, security agencies were leaving nothing to chance.
The visibility of security forces in and around the town increased manifold in the evening. More than half a dozen police and Army vehicles could be seen patrolling the town.
“There is VIP movement in the town almost on a daily basis. The Chief Minister’s immediate and extended family lives here. We have to remain extra cautious,” said a police official.
Bijbehara is spread on both sides of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway and provides an alternative route to Pahalgam. Many tourists, including Amarnath pilgrims, prefer the route for its scenic beauty and better condition of roads.
“These things make the town more important and we have to be on our toes round the clock,” the official said. Security agencies were trying strategically to restrict the entry of militants into the town by patrolling the periphery.
“We have been able to push them to the upper reaches in the Dachnipora area, east of Bijbehara town,” said the police official.
“They prefer to hide in orchards there and it will be easier for us to confront them away from the population in case we get any inputs,” he said.
He said over the last month or so, militants had quite a few close shaves in and around the town, which had reduced their movement to some extent. “Let me assure you that by November, we will neutralise all of them,” the official said.
The new wave of militancy had not left the town untouched. Experts said the reasons were “radicalisation and a sense of injustice”.
The police official maintained that there always were personal and individual reasons for most of them to jump into the militant fray.“There is an example of one of the militants in Bijbehara. He had been to school with Waseem Malla, Hizb operative from Shopian. Proximity to Malla led him into militant ranks,” he said.