Srinagar: In last ten days, three sniper attacks have taken place on the government forces’ installations in Kashmir, killing three personnel. But as per a report in The Hindu, four militants are operating with sniper rifles, headed by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit’s Qasim Bhai.
It is said that Qasim is brain behind these attacks. “Not much is known about Qasim. He is always accompanied by two foreign militants and he is said to be a master at handling the M4 rifle,” an officer is quoted by the newspaper from an internal assessment report of police on these attacks.
However, M4 Carbine rifle was recovered from militants in past also and was seen with popular militant commander Sameer Tiger too, in a photograph that went viral on social media.
In November 2017, when Talha Rasheed, nephew of JeM chief Masood Azhar, Mehmood Bhai, divisional commander of the outfit and Waseem Ahmad Ganai of Drabgam Pulwama were killed the police had recovered M4 Carbine rifle.
During the post-gunfight press conference Major General B. S. Raju, General officer commanding (GOC) of the Victor Force, had shown the rifle to the reporters, saying, “This US-made M4 carbine is presently with a lot of armies with the NATO. This is used by the special forces of the Pakistan army.”
On 21 and 25 October three attacks were carried out in Tral and Srinagar, in which three government forces’ personnel were killed. As per the report, all these attacks were carried out by the “special recruits” of the JeM.
In reaction to this the Inspector General of Police, S. P. Pani, had informed senior police officers in a letter that sniper attacks are a matter of concern. “We need to sensitize our men in this new trend of terrorist attacks,” Pani writes in the letter.
“Secondly, we should deny the snipers a clear line of sight by increasing the height of walls around our camping locations. Further location of sentry posts and their design may also be given due attention, to avoid getting hit by a sniper bullet.”
Militant attacks have later intensified in Kashmir Valley while as the killing of militants in gunfights has also saw rapid increase. In 2018, nearly 130 youths have joined various militant outfits, the highest since 2010, and a majority of them affiliating themselves with groups ideologically aligned with the Al-Qaeda, officials had said in August.
According to data compiled till July 31, around 131 youths had joined various militant outfits with South Kashmir’s Shopian district contributing the maximum of 35. The number of local recruits last year was 126.
The officials say that many youngsters are joining the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a group which claims support of Al-Qaeda and is headed by Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa.
Meanwhile, at the same time the JeM has also made a comeback as they have been successful to recruit more youth. Over 60 active recruits are currently in the outfit.
In reaction to the sniper attacks, Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Monday said the Army was looking into reports that snipers may have entered the Kashmir Valley to target the government forces.
“Whether these attacks have been done by snipers or not, this is something we are still studying,” he had told reporters. “But to say that snipers have infiltrated and that they have sniper weapons…we have not found any sniper weapon.”