Army brings back CASO-(Cordon and Search Operations) in Kashmir to counter militancy(आतंकवाद)
New Delhi, May 11: Following the brutal killing of unarmed Kashmiri Army Officer Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz in Shopian by terrorists, the Indian Army has decided to take an aggressive(आक्रामक) stand and reintroduce CASO. Nearly after 15 years of its abandonment, the Security Forces in the valley is all set to reintroduce Cordon and Search Operations (CASO) as a “permanent feature(स्थायी सुविधा)” in their campaign against the terrorist groups. This feature will be majorly carried out in militancy-affected areas of South Kashmir. “CASO will be a permanent feature as part of counter- terror operations after a gap of 15 years,” a source was quoted by news agency PTI. The source further added that militancy-hit areas of Kulgam, Pulwama, Tral, Budgam and Shopian in South Kashmir will be covered mostly under CASO.
In 2001, CASO was discontinued (बंद) following large-scale opposition from the locals. However, after 2001, the operation was launched only on specific intelligence-based inputs. Moreover, it was felt that CASO had alienated(अलग-थलग) the local population from the armed forces due to the various difficulties people faced during such operations.
But now the decision to re-introduce CASO as a major feature of the counter-terror operations comes against the backdrop of anger over the killing of Ummer Fayaz, who was grabbed by armed assailants (हमलावरों) from a family function he was attending and his dead body was later found 30 kms away from the spot he was abducted from.
Fayaz, a 22-year old Lieutenant of the Rajputana Rifles, was abducted from a family function. He was off duty and had taken leave to come to Kashmir to attend a cousin’s wedding. It was around 10 pm that the terrorists abducted him. Initially, his parents refrained from reporting the incident as they thought he would be returned alive. However, his bullet-riddled bruised dead body was found the next day inciting outrage within the Army for the killing
Sources claim that it is very uncommon to kill an off guard army officer, and perhaps is the first such case. Usually, security officials are abducted and they are looted off their belongings and arms but are left alive, but in the case of Fayaz, they instead resorted to kill him. A report on Wednesday also reported that there were several injury marks on his body which points to the fact that he was indeed tortured and killed.
On Thursday, defence sources claimed that they have identified the killers of Fayaz and they were men affiliated with the terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen. The police also suspect that he was killed by arms which were previously snatched from security personnel.
While in the case of Fayaz, the Army has reportedly vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, the implementation of CASO is surely going to make it a lot difficult for the terrorists to rest in peace, along with the locals, who might witness counter-terrorism operations similar to the 2001 era.