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Faced with rising urban militancy in Kashmir the state police has decided to form teams of specially trained commandoes drawn from its armed wing to avoid civilian killings and blowing up residential houses during gun battles with rebels.

The small groups of the JKAP commandoes will be known as Crisis Response Teams (CRTs) and imparted quality “military training” to work on the lines such teams do in developed countries like the United States of America, according to officials.   

“This is an effort, perhaps for the first time wherein we will have our policemen dealing with the various types of crisis including militancy,” director general of police, Shesh Paul Vaid told Greater Kashmir. 

“Let’s see how far we would succeed.”

A new special operating procedure (SOP) is proposed to be worked out for guiding the CRTs in consultation with experts from outside, to save houses where militants take refuge during anti-militancy operations, and to avoid killing civilians.

The CRTs would be required to enter houses where militants hide.  According to an official order issued by Vaid a board of officers headed by additional director general of police A K Chaudhary has been formed to set the process rolling. 

“Inspector General of Police Kashmir S P Pani and IGP Jammu zone S D Singh will be the members of the Board,” reads the order dated April 7, 2018.

The order states the Board is directed to constitute teams from the Jammu Kashmir Armed Police (JKAP) for meeting the “rising urban terror crisis.” 

“The Board shall also work out state-of-art weaponry/equipment to be allotted to each team.”

Official sources revealed the need for constituting CRTs was felt after analysing reports of rising urban militancy in Kashmir and foreseeing “tough situations”. 

They said experts from foreign countries may also be roped in for training the JKAP commandoes. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior police officer said armed militancy across Kashmir received a flip after the killing of BurhanWani in July 2016 with 100 joining the militant ranks within a year after that. 

“What was surprising, north Kashmir towns that include Baramulla, Kupwara, Sopore, and Bandipora too witnessed rise in youth joining militancy, but the figure wasn’t as worrisome as that of south Kashmir,” the officer said, adding south Kashmir registered a “tremendous surge in youth joining militancy” and had 10 to 12 youth joining up in each town. 

“Even after successful anti-militancy operations in 2017 in which 220 militant including 15 top commanders were killed, inclination of youth towards joining various militant ranks remained same.”

Blowing up of residential houses with explosives during encounters with militants has become a routine as government forces are unwilling or find it tough to engage for long hours with the hiding militants. 

Stiff resistance by locals during the encounters by marching close to the sites of fighting has also been a mounting challenge for the forces.  

The CRTs, a police source said, would also be used in case of emergency situations like rescue operations during massive fires, earthquakes or floods.