Srinagar: Fruit growers and traders linked to the business are on the "specific" radar of Pakistan-based terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed who have been threatening them for the last one month to stay away from the trade.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police and intelligence agencies have received inputs that the terror groups, through their local militants and their over ground workers (OGWs), are attempting to create violence in several areas in south Kashmir including Sopore and threatening the fruit growers and traders. The police in the erstwhile state have received some complaints and inputs of such attempts being made by the OGWs, said a source.
A source, in the know of intelligence developments, said that the local LeT and JeM militants are being guided by their Pakistan-based handlers to target the apple growers and traders as well as those who carry out trade in plums, cherries, walnuts and other fruits or dry fruits. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh on Wednesday also confirmed that the terrorists are targetting fruit growers in the Valley.
"The Pakistan sponsored terrorist groups like LeT and JeM have been trying to create violence in the area with whatever activity they could do to scare people," Singh said in a press briefing here. "The militants are trying to resort violence in Sopore and other areas in south Kashmir. They have also been going around south Kashmir, threatening people and pasting posters." The DGP specifically mentioned that the "militants are also physically manhandling people and telling them not to go for fruit trading, fruit collection and all".
He said that LeT militant Asif Maqbool Bhat, who was killed on Wednesday morning in a brief shootout with the police and security forces in Sopore, was responsible for attacking a leading apple trader's family on September 8 in which girl child, Asma, had also been injured. Bhat, along with his associates, the DGP said, had attacked the family of Haji Hamidullah Rather, a prominent fruit grower of Sopore and a resident of Dangerpora area, on September 8.
"The militant fired at the family members of Rather, injuring four of them including the girl aged between four and seven years. While the girl was admitted to a hospital here, other members of the family were also evacuated from the place. Bhat was also responsible for making use of OGWs to print and publish posters threatening people to stay away from the fruit business, not to open shops and refrain from normal day-to-day activities, the DGP said.
Bhat, along with two other fellow militants Sajjad and Mudassar, was very active in the area over the last one month and had created a lot of terror. "They were roaming around in villages, going to the people and threatening them, telling them not to go for daily chores." The attack on Sopore apple trader's family certainly created terror in that area and this is precisely the militants today want, the DGP said. "But our side, the police is very active and we are chasing them every where. We are hopeful that we will be able to neutralize the threats in the south Kashmir region also," he said.
A businessman from Jammu and Kashmir, requesting anonymity, told IANS that the transport of apples, plums and pears from the erstwhile state is now showing positive signs as large number of truck laiden with these items are going out of the state but the growing threat from militants is really a bad indication for them. A Jammu and Kashmir administration statement said there have been movement of over 3,023 trucks laiden with fruits, dry fruits and in the region between August 10 and September 10.
By Rajnish Singh/IANS