Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin has threatened to strike New Delhi “if forces continue to target innocent civilians in Kashmir.”
Salahuddin has claimed the responsibility for the attack in Pathankot in January this year which disrupted the on-off India-Pakistan dialogue, besides the recent attacks at Pampore, Bijbehara, Kupwara and Drugmulla.
Incidentally, Pampore attack has also been claimed by Lashkar-e-Tayeba. The Lashkar spokesman Dr Abdullah Gaznavi had called a local news agency immediately after the attack to claim the responsibility.
“If forces continue to target innocent civilians then militants will spread their net in New Delhi and will strike there,” Salahuddin said in a statement. “The attacks at Pathankot Air Base, Bijbehara, Pampore, Kupwara and Drugmulla amply prove that militants present in every part of Valley have potential to hit Indian forces”.
This is after a long time that Salahuddin has talked of hitting Delhi, albeit he had earlier also claimed responsibility for the Pathankot airbase attack, trying to deflect blame on Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, otherwise charged by New Delhi for the attack.
Considering militancy in recent weeks has shown an upward trend in Valley, coming to head with the recent attack at Pampore which killed eight CRPF jawans, Salahuddin’s threat underlines a renewed confidence in militant ranks in Kashmir.
In five militant attacks since June 15, six militants and the nine security personnel have been killed.
In recent weeks, police sources reveal, more than 50 militants have infiltrated into Kashmir, something that has the potential to once again alter local, foreign militant ratio in favour of the latter.
The militant figures for 2016 , recently revealed by the government, show the local militants outstripping foreigners by far. Among the 145 militants active in Valley, 91 are locals and 54 foreigners. But the spurt in infiltration as is generally the case in summer could have evened out the score.
The turn for worse in the situation has forced the central government to mull a major operation against the militants in Valley, including even replace the CRPF in Srinagar with BSF. The plan is also to further secure the Anantnag-Srinagar highway which has witnessed a slew of attacks over the past several months.
The spiralling militant attacks have also triggered concern about the upcoming Amarnath Yatra in Valley. The state government is contemplating using drones to protect the 45 day yatra by deploying more BSF and Army personnel along the high altitude areas of the pilgrimage trek.
Amarnath Yatris are already given four-ring security cover during their trek to the holy cave deep in the Himalayas.
Salahuddin in his statement has expressed satisfaction over “the role played by the people and militants in Kashmir Valley”.
“Armed struggle will continue till Indian troopers are present in the Valley,” he said while terming chief minister Mehbooba Mufti as a “puppet” who mourns the death of Indian soldiers.
“She is blind to the oppression, repression, killings and miseries inflicted by these troopers on Kashmiri people.”