Security forces on Wednesday resumed anti-militancy operations in the Kashmir Valley after a fortnight, with a gunfight in Baramulla claiming the lives of a policeman and a militant.
An assistant sub-inspector of police was injured and is said to be critical.
A massive government clampdown following the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status had temporarily halted the operation against militants, but a slight improvement in the situation appears to have brought the fight against insurgency back in focus.
Deputy inspector-general of police, central Kashmir, V.K. Virdi, said special police officer Bilal Ahmad was killed and assistant sub-inspector Amardeep Parihar critically injured in the overnight gunfight in Baramulla, north Kashmir.
“The operation began last (Monday) night and concluded in the morning with the death of a militant,” Virdi told reporters in Srinagar.
The slain militant was identified as Momin Gojri, a resident of Baramulla. Gojri was affiliated to a Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit and was involved in several terror cases, a police officer said, adding that arms and ammunition had been recovered from the site of the encounter.
The death of a local policeman in the gunfight assumes significance as it shows that cops from the region continue to be at the forefront of the fight against militancy.
Most members of Jammu and Kashmir police have for the first time in decades been relegated to the secondary role of assisting central paramilitary forces in dealing with the unrest, apparently over fears of desertions over the scrapping of the state’s special status.
Most of these police personnel are performing their duties without arms and carrying only batons, prompting speculation that they have been disarmed. Top officers deny such claims.
Life in the Valley continued to remain paralysed 16 days after the cancellation of the special status.
The authorities have relaxed restrictions in many parts of the Valley but shops and business establishments are not opening, although there has been some improvement in traffic on certain roads. The shutdown is voluntary as no separatist group has called for a strike.
The government on Wednesday reopened many middle schools as part of its efforts to bring educational institutions back to life and back up its claim that the situation is improving. Most students, however, have stayed away from school.
Virdi said there were no major law-and-order problems in the Valley, although there were a “few stray incidents of stone throwing”.
Director, school education, Younus Malik said the attendance of students was gradually improving.
OYO bias charge
The Delhi Minority Commission on Wednesday issued a notice to hospitality firm OYO after an affiliated hotel in Jasola Vihar allegedly denied a room to a Kashmiri youth. The commission said: “This is a serious offence of discrimination against a lawful customer.”
OYO has issued an apology in the matter and said an internal inquiry is underway. The company said it did “not tolerate any form of discrimination”.