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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

400 Security Forces Personnel Martyred Fighting Terrorism in Three Years

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Around 400 Security Forces personnel martyred while fighting terrorism and LWE in past three years, says Hansraj Ahir

The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs (UMoSHA) Hansraj Ahir told the Lok Sabha (the Lower House of the Indian Parliament) that in past three years, 400 Security Personnel were martyred while fighting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and counter-Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) operations across Left-Wing Extremism (L-WE) affected states.

Between 2015 and 2017, 572 civilians and 199 Security Personnel had lost their lives, while in J&K 72 civilians were killed and 201 Security Personnel were martyred in terror-related incidents.

In 2017, there were 342 violent incidents were registered in J&K, in which 80 Security Personnel were martyred. With a rise in the killing of 150 terrorists in 2016, 213 terrorists were killed in 2017.

In January 2018, 28 violent incidents were recorded in J&K in which four Security Personnel were martyred and eight terrorists were killed, said Hansraj Ahir.

Replying to the separate question about the insurgency in North-East states, Ahir replied that in 2017, 308 incidents were recorded, which is a decline from 484 incidents in 2016, 574 incidents in 2015, and 824 incidents in 2014.

The fatalities of civilians decreased to 37 in 2017 in comparison to 87 in 2016; 12 Security Personnel were martyred in comparison to 17 counts of the same in 2016. In total, 57 extremists were killed in 2017 as compared to 87 in 2016, said Ahir.

Courtesy: The South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal

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DEFENCE-SECURITY

Army Foils Attack on J&K Air Force Station

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An attempt by two-three militants to attack a Water Pump House outside Air Force Station at Awantipora in Pulwama District was foiled by alert guards on February 20.

“2-3 (militants) fired and lobbed a grenade at the Air Force Water Pump House Malangpora located outside Air Force Station Awantipora at around 1730 hours today [February 20]. The fire was effectively retaliated by alert sentries,” a Defence Ministry spokesman said.

“The (militants) fled. There is no loss of life or property (in the incident),” the spokesman said, adding searches have been launched to trace the attackers. “The search operation is underway,” the spokesman said.

A Police officer said that Army and Police cordoned off area but militants managed to escape. “No arrests were made so far,” the officer said.

Police and 55 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) of Army cordoned off Narbal village of Pulwama District after reports about the presence of militants in the village on February 20 evening.

As the Security Forces (SFs) laid the cordon, people of the village came out and pelted stones at the SFs who fired in the air to disperse them. They also fired tear smoke to disperse the protesters. The cordon was, however, on when last reports came in.

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

Al Qaeda Claims the Killing of a Separatist Leader in Jammu and Kashmir

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File Picture of Zakir Musa, the Head of Al Qaeda (India)

A week after two unidentified gunmen killed former militant commander and Kashmiri separatist leader, Mohammad Yusuf Rather, shooting him dead inside a passenger vehicle, the police are investigating claims made by al Qaeda’s Kashmir head, Zakir Musa, that the killing was carried out to warn Hurriyat parties against pursuing secularism.

Rather, who was associated with All Parties Hurriyat Conference-Geelani (APHC-G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani for the last 14 years, was killed by two gunmen on February 12, when he was travelling from Beerwah in Budgam to his house in the same district. Two pistol-wielding men who were sitting in the back seat of a vehicle fired at his head and later fled from the place.

League of India had reported the story here:
http://leagueofindia.com/internal-challenges/separatist-leader-shot-dead-in-jammu-and-kashmir/

Later, Zakir Musa allegedly released an audio file claiming that he ordered his men to kill the Hurriyat leader. He also said that Kashmir’s battle will not be political but in order to establish the rule of Islam. In the audio clip, he is heard saying:

“These dishonest Hurriyat leaders don’t understand. If they want to run their politics, they shouldn’t become a thorn in our way, or else we will chop off their heads and display them at Lal Chowk. This is why we had to kill Mohammad Yusuf Rather.”

In the same audio clip, Musa further added:

“Our Kashmir’s battle is for ensuring glorification of Islam and we will establish the Shariah system of Islam. My appeal to all who want to enforce religion is that it should be followed first by oneself. We should become dear to Allah and tie the rope of the Almighty with strength and not repose faith on anyone else.”

Zakir Musa is the head of al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, and the fresh audio release came a few months after he had accused Pakistan of ‘back-stabbing militants’, following US’ attack on Afghanistan.

In his previous audio message, he had said that even as foreign militants were fighting in Kashmir, the Pakistani government got militants killed, and even closed the training camps.

However, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir Range, Ghulam Hassan Bhat, said that a case has been registered after Rather’s killing, and they are looking into the audio clip as well. “We are also going through call records of the deceased, and have questioned the driver in whose vehicle Rather was heading home,” Bhat said.

According to Police officials, two pistol-wielding persons were sitting in the back seat of a vehicle on February 12. At around 4.40 pm, they fired at Rather, killing him immediately. The police then handed over his body to Rather’s family members, after which a case was registered.

APHC-G spokesman Gulam Ahmad Gulzar said that as the general secretary of the separatist outfit Tehreke Wahadati Islami, Rather was associated with the Geelani-led faction since 2004. He said that he was the deputy chief commander of the now non-existent militant outfit Hizb-ul-Momineen in the early 1990s before he joined the separatist conglomerate. “He was an important Hurriyat (G) leader and a member of our executive council,” he said.

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INTERNAL CHALLENGES

A Day After the Killing of a NCP Leader, IED found in Meghalaya

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Security Forces (SFs) on February 20 recovered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at Nengmandalgre in East Garo Hills. Police suspect Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) to be behind the incident, in an attempt to sabotage the ensuing election in the state.

Earlier on February 18, a National Congress Party (NCP) leader was killed with three others in East Garo Hills in an IED explosion.

The Meghalaya Police suspect GNLA ‘chief’ Sohan D Shira to be behind the February 18 IED blast in East Garo Hills District.

Separately, Police Observer for West Garo Hills District along with General Observer reviewed the law and order situation in East Garo Hills on February 20. The Police observer stated that they were in touch with Border Security Forces with regard to the movement of militants in border areas. Moreover, the election candidates and their agents have placed their request for additional security while highlighting few sensitive polling stations in their respective constituencies.

East Garo Hills Police Superintendent of Police (SP) stated that ‘We are strongly suspect the involvement of the GNLA chief behind this IED blast since we had carried out an operation on Monday (February 19) night after receiving inputs that Sohan was a village’. However, the militant escaped following which operations have been intensified in the whole area.

Moreover, Meghalaya Director General of Police (DGP) stated that evidence to the killing of the NCP candidate points to the role of the GNLA outfit and said credible leads are being obtained.

While clearly indicating the role of GNLA, DGP also voiced concern over the presence of surrendered rebels in the company of the slain politician. He also added that they were seeking more Paramilitary Forces from the Government of India.

In addition, DGP also added that standard security procedures were allegedly not followed by the NCP candidate leading to the attack. The NCP candidate is said to have informed district authorities about his election campaign meetings for a few select villages in Samanda block. But, he reportedly overstepped his area of the political campaign by going deeper into the remote region where previous militant activities have taken place.

DGP also added that ‘It is a known fact that GNLA ‘commander-in-chief’ Sohan Shira has been targeting former members of his group who surrendered to authorities. Last year’s killing of their surrendered finance secretary Rakkam Shira and former ‘action commander’ Kamdat are examples of the outfit’s intention’.

Also, threatening posters against the NCP candidate who was killed on February 19 were found in Chimagre, Nengkhra Darimgre, Damagre, Chisobibra and Samanda Dolwagre in East Garo Hills District.

Similar posters were visible even prior to the 2013 Assembly polls in parts of Williamnagar and the role of the suspected GNLA outfit was pointed out then by the deceased candidate. According to sources, the militants, though less in number had better human intelligence network compared to police as far as the incident in Williamnagar is concerned.

Moreover, the Police and election authorities’ machinery had not expected such a violent incident since militancy was on the downslide in Garo Hills.

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