Two Special Police Officers (SPOs) Shabir Ahmad and Suliman Ahmad, who joined militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed on Eid were killed within 24 hours. They were among four JeM militants killed in a joint operation by J&K Police and CRPF in Lassipora, Pulwama, on Friday morning.
The SPOs were reported missing from their homes on Thursday and all the efforts to trace them went futile. Acting on a tip-off, the J&K Police and CRPF conducted a cordon and search operation in the Lassipora area and found the militants holed up in a house. The SPOs had decamped with AK-47 rifles which was later on recovered by the police.
The police said that they also found one AKM (Modernized Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle) and one self-loading rifle (SLR) from their possession.
The encounter happened a day after an Army soldier, Manzoor Ahmad, was gunned down by the militants in the neighbouring Anantnag district. Manzoor had come home on Eid holidays. Manzoor was a territorial army jawan (162TA) posted at 34 RR Shopian. Incidentally, another trooper, Aurangzeb, was also killed in the Poonch region of J&K last year when he was on Eid holidays.
Threats on local police officers, soldiers looming large?
Security experts view the fresh spate of attacks as a comeback sign by the militants particularly that of JeM outfit which witnessed massive damage in the form of the loss of its top rank militant commnaders as well as weaponry since last year.
In 2018, the militant outfits led by the Hizbul Mujahideen had warned the local youth who joined the J&K police force and the Indian Army of dire consequences if they did not resign from their respective positions. There were reported en masse resignations of the SPOs who were recruited under a special drive by the J&K Police fearing risk for their lives and families.
Hizbul Mujahideen's chief in Kashmir, Riyaz Naikoo, who is also one of the most wanted militants from the valley, had said that many of these SPOs were acting as secret informers and were a key to the increased casualties suffered by the militants in the recent past.
The militants had also kidnapped the relatives of the SPOs and warned them of death if they continued to support the police forces.