After a hiatus of 100 days, security forces carried out extensive searches yesterday in the town of Baramulla, one of the most volatile centres in the nearly three-month long unrest that seared the Kashmir Valley after July’s shooting of Burhan Wani, the 22-year-old terrorist who had won a big local following.
Baramulla, located little over 55 kms from Srinagar, was firmly in the control of the massive mobs that would defy curfew to attack security personnel and their property, including bases and vehicles. Though Pakistani flags being waved by protestors is not uncommon, intelligence agencies are concerned about the appearance of Chinese flags in recent large demonstrations.
With the violence gradually ebbing, security forces yesterday moved through the town and picked up over 40 men for alleged involvement in “terror-related activities”.
“Over 700 houses were searched in a span of 12 hours on October 17 in an extensive search operation in old town in Baramulla,” an army spokesman said, adding that the raids were carried out in 10 locations which were supposedly helping to shelter stone-pelters and suspected terrorists.
After Burhan Wani was shot dead, Pakistan eulogized him as a martyr leading “a new freedom movement in Kashmir.” The protests triggered by his death left more than 90 people killed and over 10,000 injured including security personnel. India has accused Pakistan of inciting and funding the riots.
After terrorists last month attacked an army base in Uri, approximately 45 kms from Baramulla, leaving 19 soldiers dead, India crossed the Line of Control to target gathering areas for terrorists. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading a campaign to globally isolate Pakistan, with far less support from China than other countries.
Pakistan is a long-term ally of China and their strategic and economic interests are especially interlinked through a new $46 billion trade corridor that links Western China to Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.