SRINAGAR (INDIA), May 4: In the third such incident in last 48 hours, terrorists looted 3 lakh from a bank in Kakapora area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Wednesday, less than two hours after four masked men carrying guns robbed 5 lakh from Ellaquai Dehati Bank in Wahibugh village of the district.
On Tuesday, unidentified gunmen had barged into the Yaripora branch of the same bank and taken away 65,000, and on May 1, terrorists had attacked a cash van of J&K Bank and shot dead five policemen and two bank guards in Kulgam district in south Kashmir.
There have been several successful attempts at robbing banks in the Valley since November 8 when demonetisation was announced, suggesting that the terrorists are strapped of cash. The hawala trade is at standstill even as a series of moves by the Centre have dried up terrorists' financial resources.
Short of money to buy weapons and pay their over-ground workers, the Hizbul and Lashkar terrorists are striking out at banks, which are also symbols of establishment.
Sources said attacks on banks may also force deployment of Central forces and state police for their security. "This means forces will be diverted to protect the nearly 1,500 bank branches across the Valley, leaving fewer personnel for the counter-terror grid," said an officer.
Central security establishment believes these attacks on banks could be a double-edged sword. Sources said since demonetisation was announced, most of the local populace has started keeping their money in banks. By creating a scare, the terrorists may be trying to force the people to once again keep their money at home, and help them access it when needed, as was the case always. Many Kashmiris willingly donate to Jamaat-e-Islami and other organisations.
There also seems a degree of public support to militants in the four southern districts on the prowl, looting banks and snatching weapons from J&K police personnel, with police saying they are investigating the driver of the van that was attacked on May 1, who has disappeared since then.
Security agencies said that local militants, who've mostly joined Hizbul Mujahideen, have no weapons and arms training. They depend mostly on snatched weapons from J&K police. Weapon snatching from cops has become routine in all four districts of south Kashmir. In fact, five rifles were snatched from cops on duty at the Shopian district court during the intervening night of Tuesday-Wednesday, police said.
Support to militants in these southern districts, Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian, Kulgam, has increased since the encounter killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in June 2016.(TOI)
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