Report by Tabish Qayyum & Zainulabedin Ameer
Disguised as youth playing cricket, at least two ‘Fidayeen’ unleashed a brazen attack at a CRPF camp in Srinagar’s Bemina area this morning (10.45 am) carrying lethal weapons in sports kits. This attack is being noted as the most audacious attack after three years, taking the Indian occupational forces completely unaware.
As Kashmir was observing a strike by separatists groups demanding return of ‘Afzal Guru’s’ body, the attack took place in the vicinity of a public school in Bemina area of Srinagar; children in a nearby playground were unharmed. The attack was only directed at Indian forces at the CRPF Camp, according to the emerging reports. Sources in Kashmir are confirming that the Indian forces have still been unable to neutralize the attackers completely as yet. Omar Abdullah broke the news in J&K assembly by admitting ‘five CRPF servicemen causalities with few injured’. “It was a suicide attack,” Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, told the state assembly.
This is being considered a high scale attack in Srinagar that houses the most number of troops and security, in fact; the whole city presents itself as a large military camp. Azhar Qadri, a journalist who lives about 500 meters from the camp in Bemina, said that he woke up to the sounds of shooting and thuds. “I heard sporadic shooting for about 20-25 minutes,” he said. “And the thuds sounded like grenades.” The school children were immediately closed in, so there was “no loss to property or life,” the school’s principal, Tanzim Wahidi said. None of the school children or staff was hurt. “We have a residential colony nearby and children come from there into school grounds,” he added. “This was an attack on the peace of Kashmir,” S. M. Sahai, the inspector general of police in Kashmir, told journalists.
Sources say that unidentified gunmen lobbed grenades at the entrance of the CRPF camp and followed up with gun fire as they stormed the camp. CRPF’s injured troops and others running for cover can be seen in live feeds on Indian channels. Indian security forces claim two of the gunmen have been killed while it is not certain if there are any more surviving gunmen. There are also some reports of few more attackers; the area itself is a highly secured one and with several sensitive points with government officers living nearby.
Statements upon the incident have just started pouring in from various quarters of the Indian administration. Mehbooba Mufti condemns the violence and says violence is not the solution. Umar Abdullah provided a summary of the incident to the House. While common Kashmiri people on social media are praising the resistance fighters who see this as a reprisal to the Indian attitude since Afzal Guru’s hanging, whose body has not been returned to the family, causing major rifts and protests in Kashmir. No Group has accepted the responsibility yet but the evolving pattern is ‘Hall Mark’ of LET, often dreaded for its daring assaults on Indian forces. ‘This is a signature attack of Lashker e Taiba (LET)” said Afadul Mujtaba, DIG Central Kashmir. ‘Fidayeen’ attacks were first time noted after Kargil war between India and Pakistan initiated by Kashmiri freedom fighters which saw most fortified camps, bases and installation being attacked by few ‘Fidayeen’ fighters.
Most analysts and the security establishment in India fears militancy returning to valley in the back drop of US withdrawal in 2014 from Afghanistan. Another significant developing trend is of the civilians ‘pelting stones’ as security forces battle militants. Similar ‘stoning’ was noted today as Indian forces were caught between bullets and stoning by youth, clearly showing who the crowds were supporting in this ensuing match between hundreds of soldiers and two Ak-47 yielding, Kashmiri batsman fighting the match of freedom. Sympathies, Hearts and minds of Kashmiris have always been with freedom fighters despite the international propaganda and ‘stereo-typing’. It’s a wider belief after the way things are evolving in Kashmir; this may just be the tip of the iceberg, hitting the Indian Military arrogance in Kashmir, yet again.