first_imgMilitants on Wednesday looted two branches of the Ellaquai Dehati Bank (EDB) within a span of two hours in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. In another incident on Tuesday night in Shopian district, also in south Kashmir, five service rifles were snatched from court guards.Around noon, three armed militants barged into a branch of the EDB, at remote Wahibugh in Pulwama district, 30 km from capital Srinagar. “Apparently ₹4.92 lakh is missing. The final estimation of the looted amount is still being ascertained,” a senior police official told The Hindu.Within two hours of the first robbery, armed militants again struck in Pulwama’s Nihama and robbed another EDB branch of ₹1.60 lakh. It was the third such incident in 24 hours. Around ₹65,000 was looted from another EDB branch located in Kader village, Shopian district, on Tuesday, according to the police. Five service rifles, including four INSAS and one AK-47, were snatched from five policemen guarding the District Court Complex, Shopian, on Tuesday night. The policemen have been suspended. The incident took place just 700 metres from the nearest police station. On Monday, militants took away five service rifles after killing five policemen, guarding a cash van, in Kulgam. VulnerableA top counter-insurgency police officer told The Hindu that the EDB branches remain easy targets for militants given their locations in the interiors of the districts. The police have already categorised many of these branches in south Kashmir as “hyper sensitive.”“The growing incidents of looting of banks and weapons only point to the swelling militant ranks in south Kashmir. There is shortage of cash to meet the daily expenses of the groups, with around 30 members each,” said the police officer. According to the police data, Pulwama, out of four districts in south Kashmir, has the presence of more than 70 militants, including 12 foreigners, the highest ever in the past two decades. “We suspect that the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Hizbul Mujahideen are working in tandem in south Kashmir,” said the officer.In 2016, both the Hizb and the LeT militants looted ₹30 lakh from three banks in south and central Kashmir.Arms and cash crunch, due to depleting couriers between fresh recruits and the handlers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), is forcing the locally trained and recruited militants to swoop on the soft targets.last_img

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