Search operation underway in Dachigam forests to trace militants

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Srinagar: Security forces launched a massive search operation in the forests of Dachigam, located between Srinagar and Ganderbal districts, on Monday to trace militants believed to be in the area.

Officials said the operation involved troops from the army’s Rashtriya Rifles, the special operations group of Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF. The security forces are combing the forests and hillocks of Dachigam wildlife sanctuary and nearby areas.

The security forces are also using electronic surveillance equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles to scan the area, officials said.

A senior police officer confirmed a combing operation was underway in the forests of Dachigam. “Yes, it’s a general area domination operation launched by the forces,” he said.

The troops started by searching for militants areas in the upper reaches of Dachigam and places close to the wildlife sanctuary. The forests and mountainous terrain of this area have been used in the past by militants to enter Srinagar and south Kashmir after coming in from Bandipore and Lolab areas.

Officials said the search operation is part of efforts to secure the areas along the route of the Amarnath Yatra, especially Ganderbal and Srinagar districts. This year, the pilgrimage will be held for a brief period from next month and a limited number of pilgrims will be allowed to trek to the Amarnath shrine via the Baltal route, considered the shortest but toughest route.

Local residents said search operations in Gandernal and the outskirts of the city could increase in coming days to secure the tracks and routes used by yatris. Besides, security forces have received intelligence inputs about the presence of militants in the area.

“This is a usual operation to scan the forests and if there are any militants in Dachigam or adjoining areas and forests, they will be flushed out,” an official privy to details said on condition of anonymity.

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