Kashmir: Weapons snatching incidents worry security forces; 60 rifles, 6 pistols, 182 magazines looted in 2016

As per the official records, at least 60 rifles, six pistols and 182 magazines were looted from security personnel in 2016 from Kashmir.

Security forces are not just worried about the spate of bank robberies in Kashmir, but also about the rampant cases of weapons snatching by militants from police personnel.

"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.

The 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.

On Wednesday, militants 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 barged into the Wahibugh branch of Elaquai Dehati Bank around 1.50pm and looted around Rs 3-4 lakh at gunpoint before fleeing, according to police official.

A hunt has been launched to arrest the militants.