Several locals had reported militant sightings ahead of Dangri attack in J&K’s Rajouri

A local woman had given descriptions of the suspected men found in forest areas of Rajouri, sources say  

January 02, 2023 09:56 pm | Updated January 03, 2023 08:31 am IST - SRINAGAR

Army bomb disposal team arrived after an explosion, in Dangri village in Rajouri district, on January 2, 2023.

Army bomb disposal team arrived after an explosion, in Dangri village in Rajouri district, on January 2, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Locals had reported militant sightings in Rajouri and the intelligence agencies had also raised an alarm about a likely ‘fidayeen’ attack days ahead of the Dangri attack, which left six civilians dead in the Pir Panjal Valley.

Sources said several villagers in Upper Dangri and nearby villages in Rajouri had reported militant sightings to the local police in December. A local woman also gave descriptions of the suspected men spotted in forest areas in Rajouri, sources added.

However, the security agencies could not anticipate the likely target of the militants or trace their movement. At least two well-trained militant groups were tipped to be moving around in the upper reaches of Pir Panjal valley, comprising Poonch and Rajouri districts in the later part of last year. Both these districts border Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and have a long Line of Control (LoC) with dense forest cover.

Also read: Militants shoot dead 4 civilians in Rajouri

Sources said after Sunday’s attack, searches have started in Poonch’s Mendhar area and the Reasi district police have increased patrols and searches along the border areas of Rajouri.

Rajouri was a zero-militancy district till 2019, when the Centre ended the special constitutional position of J&K. Since then, there has been a sudden spurt in the number of active militant modules in the district. The Pir Panjal valley recorded several attacks in 2022.

Three explosions were reported in Rajouri’s Kotranka and Shahpur last year, leaving four civilians injured. The police claimed to have busted the module behind these blasts and arrested several locals for their role. There were intelligence reports that a few Kashmir-based militants of the Lashkar-e-Taiba were active in Kandi-Budhal range “to revive militancy”. There were startling revelations when a wanted Lashkar ‘commander’, Talib Hussain Shah, turned out to be an in-charge of the BJP’s Social Media Wing for Minorities last year.

Four soldiers and two ‘fidayeen’ militants were killed in Rajouri during an attempt to storm an Army camp in August last year. Later, the Army arrested an infiltrator and killed several others in multiple operations close to the LoC in Rajouri.

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