The Army, security forces and police had launched a massive cordon and combing operation in south Kashmir’s Shopian district following the recent militant attacks on policemen and banking facilities. This is the first time in 15 years that the combing operation of this magnitude has been conducted by the security forces. The major objective behind the combing operation is to bring the situation in the Kashmir Valley under control. It is also aimed at exerting pressure on militants and force them to move out of their comfort zone.
The environment of the Shopian district with ravines and orchards offers ideal hideouts for militants. The operation was carried out by 4000 personnel including four battalions of Rashtriya Rifles, eight companies of CRPF, and five platoons of J&K police and the Indian Reserve Police. The security personnel using Mine Protected Vehicles (MPVs) and Bullet Proof Rakshaks and moved into 20 villages and laid a cordon in an area of 10kmx10km.
House-to-house searches were carried out in certain villages like Sugan, Turkwangam, Heff and Shirmal, from where many youths suspected to have joined militant ranks. Army estimates the presence of around 100 active militants in south Kashmir. The security forces made use of “area domination and sweep” operations in the 1990s. During those times, such operations were commonly conducted by the Indian Army. Later, following the complaints of discomfort caused to the local population, the Army switched to specific intelligence-based operations involving small teams.