Sources said over the past four days security forces have neutralised about 18 terrorists

NEW DELHI: November has been the deadliest month for the security forces with 39 terrorists killed in Jammu and Kashmir, the highest hits this year in comparison to previous months. One of these major kills was of Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Naveed Jatt on Wednesday and now the security forces are working towards eliminating the few remaining top terrorist leadership in the state, government officials said.

The security forces have so far killed 233 terrorists this year, much higher than the total count of 213 last year. But, this is not it. The forces are expecting more action in the coming days, having received inputs on most of the terrorists being concentrated in certain areas of south and central Kashmir. These terrorists could include the three top leaders who are the prime targets.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event in Delhi on Wednesday had said that the security forces are ‘one by one’ killing terrorists, who have been named as the top 12 most wanted ones in J&K and plans are afoot to finish their leadership. Sources explained that following Jatt’s killing, forces are searching for Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Zeenat-ul-Islam, the group’s chief operational commander in Kashmir, Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo, besides Zakir Musa of the group called the Ansar Ghazwat ul-Hind. The three are locals of Kashmir and have been categorised by the forces as ‘A++’ terrorists, which is the most notorious level.

Sources added that major operations will be planned over the next month. This comes in the backdrop of the army chief saying that the terrorists have to be brought to a level where they are not able to “revamp” and come together. “There are inputs that most of the terrorists are concentrated in five locations. These are Shopian, Anantnag, Budgam, Kulgam and Srinagar,” said an official.

Rawat had also said that now hard intelligence is coming from the local population. It is this which has led to successful operations. Sources added that over the past four days security forces have neutralised about 18 terrorists, including top commanders, in South Kashmir. Some of these operations saw the killing of six terrorists and later of seven more in the region last week.

Such operations have led to the killing of 39 terrorists in November. This is much higher in comparison to previous months when the number of hits didn’t touch 30, such as in October when it was 28, 29 in September and 28 in August. An important trend coinciding with this development is that so far this month there has been no recruitment of locals into terrorist ranks. This is in stark contrast to 33 local recruitment in October. The fall in such recruitment is an important factor to reducing the cycle of violence between the security forces and terrorist groups.