SRINAGAR: Suspected militants have carried out a series of raids on the houses of Jammu and Kashmir policemen in south Kashmir since last night, abducting at least 11 persons who are relatives of the cops, apparently in retaliation to similar raids carried out by forces two days ago.

Reports said gunmen barged into the homes of the cops residing in south Kashmir last night and took away their brothers, fathers or cousins. “In some cases, the abducted persons or their family members were assaulted when they resisted,” police sources said. Of the 11 incidents, two persons were abducted today morning.

According to reports, a massive search operation has been launched following the alarming incidents to trace the abducted persons with authorities sounding a high alert across south Kashmir areas, the epicentre of the ‘new age insurgency’, where the abductions have taken place.

Last night, a high-level security meeting was convened by top brass of security forces to launch search operation for tracing the abducted persons, “These are desperate acts (of militants) but operations are going on and we are hopeful of retrieving them,” S P Pani, Inspector General of Kashmir Police said.

A police spokesman said the “incidents of abduction have come to the notice of Police in South Kashmir. We are ascertaining details and circumstances. In due course it shall be placed in public domain,” said the spokesman.

The abductions come a day after security forces raided dozens of villages in south Kashmir during which at least two houses of active militants were allegedly set ablaze while as nearly two dozen persons, including the father of Hizb’s Kashmir chief Riyaz Naikoo, was allegedly beaten up and detained.

In an audio clip which surfaced on social media on August 28, Naikoo, an A++ category militants who carries a reward of Rs 12.5 lakhs on his head, had warned the policemen to refrain from making the battle personal by targeting the families of militants.

Naikoo, who is one of the longest surviving militant in Kashmir, had denounced the “.... continuous harassment of militant families” by security forces as a sign of “frustration but it is not going to deter us from carrying on our mission,” he is heard as saying in the 12-minute clip.

The abduction spree has sparked tensions across Kashmir and especially among the families of those locals who work with the J&K Police. According to reports, these families have been asked to take extreme precautions in order to avoid any mishap.

“Arresting family members of militants and burning houses of militants and humiliating their family members has neither helped in the past nor it will help in future. Both the militants and security forces must respect families of each other and stop promoting infighting within the society,” lawmaker Engineer Rasheed said.

Meanwhile, former J&K chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti denounced the latest turn taken by the turmoil in Kashmir. “Militants and forces victimising each other’s families is highlycondemnable and marks a new low in our situation. Families shouldn’t become casualties and made to suffer for something they have little control over,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.

“11 Abductions! This is a very worrying reflection of the situation in the Valley. What’s worse is the selective outrage - people/leaders who are so vocal about alleged security force excesses are silent about these abductions,” Omar Abdullah said.