Suspected militants on Wednesday targeted two banks in south Kashmir's Pulwama district within a span of two hours and decamped with several lakh rupees.
In the first case, four armed militants entered the Wahibugh branch of Elaquai Dehati Bank around 1.50pm and looted around Rs 3-4 lakh at gunpoint before fleeing, a police official said.
A police team rushed to the scene after the bank employees informed them of the incident. A hunt was launched to arrest the robbers and recover the money, the official said.
The second robbery took place at the Nehama branch of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Pulwama around 3.20pm, the official said.
A police team has rushed to the spot and the exact amount of cash looted by the armed militants is being ascertained.
Meanwhile, the J&K Police has identified militant behind Monday's Kulgam incident in which 7 people, including 5 cops were killed.
JK Police identifies militant behind #Kulgam incident in which 7 people including 5 cops were killed; Rs 5 lakh reward also announced.
- Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) May 3, 2017
Militants are on a rampage in south Kashmir and they are not only looting banks, but even snatching weapons from security personnel.
Militants have struck at bank assets four times in the past three days in south Kashmir.
On Tuesday, unidentified gunmen barged into Yaripora branch of the the Elaquai Dehati Bank that was struck Wednesday and took away Rs 65,000.
On Monday, militants attacked J&K Bank' s cash van killing 5 policemen and two bank guards in Kulgam and looted four assault rifles from the slain cops.
After the recent video which was uploaded by terror groups on social media ,security agencies believe that militants operating in the Valley have changed their strategy and are now operating in big groups comprising of 8 to 10 militants, which is a new challenge for security forces in Kashmir.
Weapon snatching incidents worries security forces; 60 rifles, 6 pistols, 182 magazines looted in 2016
"It is a disturbing trend we know it. We are trying to take precautionary measures as well," said a top police official.
Around 9 pm on Tuesday night, a group of armed men barged into the police post set up to guard the district court complex in Shopian. They held 5 policemen, who were on duty, on gunpoint and fled with their service rifles in a matter of 20 minutes.
The incident came just a day after 5 policemen and two bank guards were killed when the militants stopped a bank cash delivery van in Kulgam. Four rifles were missing from the spot when the army and forces reached there. The police says the apparent motive of the attack was to snatch the weapons.
On March 23rd, militants fired indiscriminately at the policemen guarding the residence of senior PDP minister Farooq Andrabi in Dooru area of Anantnag. None of the guards or the family members of the minister were harmed. They just decamped with four the rifles of the policemen posted there.
In similar manner, the militants attacked houses of PDP leaders like MP MP Nazir Ahmad Laway in Kulgam and Sheikh Javed Ahmad in Anantnag on August 31 on September 18 last year. On both the occasions, the only motive of the attacks seemed to be weapon snatching from the guards.
As per the official records, at least 60 rifles, six pistols and 182 magazines were looted from security personnel in 2016 from Kashmir. In total, 16 incidents of weapons snatching took place last year.
A top security officer tells us that the militant groups are falling short of guns and that's the reason they have resorted to this new strategy of weapons snatching.
"It is difficult to smuggle weapons from outside. That could be one of the reasons for this desperate tactic now," he added.
Other view, which is in the security circles, is about the practice being adopted by the militant groups to ask the potential new recruits to bring their own arms. This serves two purposes, one is about testing the candidate, and if he succeeds, there is a ready weapon to be used.
With inputs from PTI