The Valley of Kashmir witnessed on Thursday, October, 21 a very fierce encounter between hardcore terrorists of the terrorist outfit, Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) and the security forces, at Village Malroo, 15 km from Srinagar. The JeM operational chief, Sajad Afghani, has already confirmed, through the media, that the three terrorists who have been killed in the encounter were part of his outfit and that they belonged to a larger group of six which has been tasked to target the Headquarters of the Army’s 15 Corps at Badami Bagh and other Army installations. The Jaish spokesman also made no bones about the fact that his outfit will intensify efforts to launch fidayeen attacks in the Valley especially on Army installations.
The manner in which the story has been covered by the media is very interesting. The predominant version states that troops of 2 Rashtriya Rifles and J&K Police launched the search cum cordon operation after receiving information about presence of the JeM terrorists in the house of one Abdul Majid Bhat. The security forces carried a house -to-house search in the morning and on coming under fire from the target house got into a fire fight with the terrorists. After ensuring the safety of the civilians, the joint security forces coloumn launched an assault on the hideout, resulting in another prolonged and fierce exchange of fire. One of the militants jumped out of the house and took shelter in the neighbouring house. As night approached, the security forces blasted the two houses. By October, 22 the bodies of three terrorists had been recovered from the debris.
The second version, from a small segment of the press, says that the Army and Police had laid the cordon in the evening which “forced the locals to rush to safer places after hearing the gunshots”. The forces then fired mortar shells at the house in which the militants were hold up, “razing the structure to ground”. A militant “came out of the house and resorted to firing on forces after two helicopters were hovering over the encounter site”.
The manner in which the encounter was carried out, the reportage that it received from the media and the subsequent statement that has been given by the spokesman of the JeM throws light on the sensitive scenario prevalent in the Valley.
It is very evident from the visuals that have been aired by most television channels that the forces exercised maximum restraint and ensured the safety of the civilians before going in for the kill. They took ten long hours to complete an operation that could have been finished in an hour, simply because they wanted to avoid unnecessary loss of life and damage to property. It is also evident that there was no option but to bring down the houses where the terrorists were holed in. The press report, however, reflects the biased tone and tenor of a segment of the Valley’s media. Loaded statements have been made to distort facts and give a propagandist version. This false propaganda, at the behest of interests inimical to the security and integrity of the country and the Kashmiri people, is leading to orchestration of a hate campaign against the security forces who are actively involved in a do or die battle against enemies of the Nation who have infiltrated into Kashmir
It is also very clear that the terrorist outfits continue to have the capability to plan and execute daring attacks not only in the hinterland but also in the well guarded urban centre’s of the Valley. This incident was widely reported by the media, both print and visual, because of its close proximity to Srinagar. What is going unnoticed are the encounters that take place almost on a daily basis in some remote corner of the Valley or the other. In a joint operation on October, 20, which went largely unnoticed, a terrorist logistic support base for the winter season was busted leading to recovery of a large quantity of administrative stores and rations. The recovered stores were hidden inside a man made hideout at the Basinda Dhar area of Tehsil Gul, District Ramban. Such is the planning and reach of the terrorist organisations.
The fact that Geelani has been politically targeting the Army for the last few weeks, albeit unsuccessfully, when seen in the context of the planned terrorist attacks on army installations establishes a link between the efforts of the terrorists and the secessionist segment. Despite such incriminating evidence, we as a nation, do not show any hesitation in allowing anti-national elements like Geelani complete democratic freedom to spread their venom. Geelani was welcomed with shoes and he barely managed to come out alive from a seminar organised also on October, 21, in Delhi, by some vague group called Committee for Release of Political Prisoners. It has been once again proved that apart from a few separatists and their alter-egos, the people of Jammu and Kashmir are against the concept of Azaadi. Yet we consider such fringe elements to be leaders of stature whose point of view has to be considered while addressing the so called issue of Kashmir.
The incidents of the last few days have clearly established that terrorist activity, aided and abetted by anti national elements, ably supported by the information spectrum and designed to subvert national integrity is very much active and potent in the Kashmir Valley. We as a Nation need to reflect upon our response, Should we be seen as a weak kneed people who succumb to the unreasonable demands made by vested interests in the name of democracy or should we be seen as a people ready to stand up for a just and righteous cause in the interest of the Nation firmly supporting our security forces in performance of their sacred duty. What is more important, arresting Geelani for anti-national activities or abrogation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act?.