|A soldier patrols a forest in Jammu on Saturday. (Reuters)
Srinagar, Sept. 28: Security forces in Jammu were on toes today after a woman claimed she had spotted militants in combat fatigues in a Kathua village, but search-and-cordon operations threw up nothing.
The buzz set off panic in parts of Jammu, on high alert since militants crossed over from Pakistan and killed 10 persons in audacious strikes on a police station and an army camp in Kathua and Samba districts on Thursday.
Police, under fire for the security lapses that allowed the militants a 30km free run two days ago, lost no time in relaying information across the region after the woman reported seeing the militants in Dayalachak village of Kathua district. Soon after, security forces started combing operations.
“Combing operations were launched but we found nothing,” Shakeel Beigh, the police chief of the Jammu-Samba-Kathua range, said.
Another police officer said patrolling across the region was stepped up. The Jammu-Pathankote national highway was sealed for hours, inconveniencing commuters.
“When we approached the woman in Dayalachak, she told us her daughter had seen the militants. The daughter said some boys had seen them. Then there were reports that they were seen in the school and stadium. We went there but found nothing,” the official said.
The police appealed to the people to ignore rumours after the buzz about the militant-sighting spread in Kathua and Samba. “People have been asked not to pay heed to rumours but at the same time we are not taking any chances,” the official said.
The rumour broke on a day the Omar Abdullah government suspended the station house officer of Hiranagar police station, Raj Kumar Padha, and two officials for dereliction of duty during Thursday’s attack.
“A special police officer was also disengaged, all for dereliction of duty,” Beigh said.
Around 20 officers were there in Hiranagar police station and the adjoining residential quarters when the militants struck, killing four cops.
Panic gripped parts of uptown Srinagar today after gun shots were heard in Rawalpora area when a road-opening party (ROP) of the army was passing through.
An army officer said two bikers, suspected to be militants, opened fire when they were asked to stop. “The ROP opened fire but they fled,” an army officer said.