Militants using hideouts away from habitations indicate dwindling of their support base: Officials
Srinagar: In an indication of further shrinkage of the militants' support base in the valley, more and more cases of outlaws using cave-like hideouts away from the human habitations are surfacing, say security personnel.
A police official made this remark Wednesday after security forces busted an underground hideout of militants in Awantipora area of Pulwama district where some of the top Hizbul Mujahideen commanders were believed to be hiding.
The official said a search operation was launched in the area on early Wednesday on a tip off about the presence of militants in the hideout -- a cave-like structure made in a hillock.
Though nothing incriminating could by found by the security forces, there were tell-tale signs of the hideout having been used recently by militants, the official said.
The ultras appeared to have deserted it hours before the security forces launched the search operation.
This cave-like hideout, away from the human habitations, was detected Wednesday, barely days after discovery of another similar hideout in Arampora area of Awantipora.
The busting of the second cave-like hideout came four days after six militants of Ansar Ghazwatul Hind, an offshoot of ISIS, were killed in an encounter in Arampora area of Awantipora on Saturday.
"The militants killed in the operation on Saturday were also avoiding residential areas for quite sometime and hiding in a cave-like hideout," the official said.
He said six militants including some wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in Saktipora operation in Anantnag district on November 23 while three others were gunned down in Pulwama district this month.
"In both the cases, the militants had built underground hideouts near orchards," he added.
The security officials said the militants have been left looking for alternative hideouts due to the fact that atrocities committed by them against civilians have led to disaffection among the masses and shrinkage of their support base.
"More than 50 civilians were killed by militants this year while some of the brutal executions were captured on camera and later circulated on social media. This has further reduced their already shrinking support base," the official said.
He said the other factor for this new trend was the continuous flow of human intelligence to the security forces, which has helped them neutralise a large number of ultras during the year.
"More than 250 militants have been killed this year and it has been possible due to the stream of human intelligence that we have been getting from general public. This has probably forced the militants to avoid human habitations and take refuge in these structures. However, we have been getting inputs about these places as well and we are working on it," the police official said.