SRINAGAR: At the centre of the ongoing crackdown by security forces against militants, Pulwama district in south Kashmir, home to some of the most prominent faces of militancy, has led the way in the recently declared class 10 board results.

The volatile district, which saw the killing of nearly one and half dozen militants and at least six civilians by security forces during counter-insurgency operations this month alone, recorded the highest of 84.5 percent students who qualified the board exams.

The results of the Class 10 exam were declared by the J&K Board of School Education on Saturday. Kupwara, which is the home district of BJP ally Sajad Lone, stands at the bottom of the list with just 62.92 students qualifying the exam.

The remarkable feat achieved by Pulwama comes despite a massive crackdown on militants under ‘Operation All-Out’ due to which the district saw over 100 days of shutdown and protests this year, maximum for any district in the Valley, prompting the authorities to close down educational institutions and suspend the mobile internet for most part of this year.

“Dear boys and girl of Shopian and Pulwama, you really made us proud today. Despite a routine bloodbath in place topping annual matriculation examination was never an easy job. Well done,” Javaid Naikoo, a resident of Shopian, wrote on Facebook.

According to official data, more than 40 militants from Pulwama belonging to various outfits were gunned down in encounters with security forces this year. Data also reveals that of the 115 civilians killed by security forces this year, over two dozen hailed from Pulwama.

The militant commanders gunned down by security forces include Sameer Tiger, the district commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, and his successor Liyaqat Wani, Muzammil Dar, Jaish’s Pulwama commander, who was killed on Saturday along with his three associates.

Home district of Hizb’s Kashmir commander Burhan Wani who was gunned down in an encounter in 2016, sparking a mass uprising against New Delhi’s rule, Pulwama has turned into an ideological battle ground lately. The district has also recorded the highest recruitment of local youth into ‘new age insurgency’.

Lately, there has been a spurt in counter insurgency operations in the district. Officials say the mountainous topography of Pulwama with lush green forests and apple orchards makes it easy for militants to find or dig out shelters in the district.

Sources said one of the recent hideouts busted in the district, in which six militants of Zakir Musa’s Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind were trapped and later gunned down, was a meticulously designed underground cave with two rooms, a bathroom and air vents.

“We have intensified search operations in Pulwama because there are intelligence inputs that more such hideouts are being run in the district with the help of overground workers of militants. Eradicating militancy in Pulwama has a symbolic value because it is the home district of Burhan Wani,” a senior police officer said.

With the talk of state assembly elections looming in the air, Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister, visited the family of an active militant at their residence in Pulwama yesterday. She alleged that the families of militants were being assaulted by security forces.

“We will not allow south Kashmir to turn into a battleground. The harassment of militant families has to stop. Forces are committing atrocities on them. I appeal the Governor (Satya Pal Malik) to ensure that this highhandedness comes to an end,” she told reporters.

(Cover Photograph Navbharat Times)