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Post-demonetisation banks have become soft target for militants in J&K
With 13 incidents of looting reported in various branches in different districts post demonetisation, banks have become soft targets for militants in the trouble-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Out of these incidents, Jammu & Kashmir Bank remained the most affected while some incidents were also reported in State Bank of India and Elaquai Dehati Bank branches.

Following the demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes on November 8, the cash crunch seems to have turned terrorists in Kashmir into robbers as bank robbery incidents have been on the rise in the state of Jammu and Kashmir particularly in the Valley. Desperate militants have found this new way to terrorise Kashmir and fund their activities by stealing money from banks and ATMs.

There have been several successful attempts at robbing banks in the Valley since demonetisation was announced.

According to reports, over the past six months, militants have looted more that Rs 1 crore from banks and ATMs in 13 such incidents. Most robberies have occurred in the wee hours of weekdays, and the most common targets have been banks in Pulwama (4) and Kulgam (3). Other districts targeted by militants include Anantnag (2), Shopian (2), Budgam (1) and Kishtwar (1).

Not only the Kashmir Valley, but the Jammu region too has also been the target as cash worth Rs 40 lakh was looted from the Sarthal branch of J&K Bank in Kishtwar district.

If bank branches in remote areas become such easy targets for terrorists, the consequences can be severe, reports said.

Short of money to buy weapons and pay their over-ground workers, Hizbul and Lashkar terrorists are striking banks, which are also symbols of the establishment. Hawala trade is at standstill as a series of moves by the Centre have dried up terrorists' financial resources.

Attacks on banks may also force deployment of Central forces and state police for protecting nearly 1,500 bank branches across the Valley.

Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Valley has mostly remained unaffected by demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month. There has been no chaos and queues outside the ATMs or banks in the Valley.

Chronology of Bank robberies in J&K:

May 3, 2017: Terrorists loot Rs 3 lakh from Nihama branch of J&K Bank in Kakapora area of Pulwama district.

May 3, 2017: Four masked men carrying guns rob Rs 5 lakh from Ellaquai Dehati Bank in Wahibugh village of Pulwama district.

May 2, 2017: Unidentified gunmen barge into the Yaripora branch of the Elaquai Dehati Bank in Kulgam district and elope with Rs 65,000.

May 1, 2017: Terrorists attack a cash van of J&K Bank and shoot dead five policemen and two bank guards in Damhal Hanji Pora area of Kulgam district. The van had no cash.

April 28, 2017: Security forces arrest one militant when he attemptsa robberyin J&K Bank's TP branch in Anantnag district.

April 21, 2017: State Bank of India ATM in Anantnag district. The ATM had Rs 12.18 lakh.

April 19, 2017: Rs 5 lakh looted from J&K Bank Harmain branch in Shopian district.

February 19, 2017: Unidentified men attempt to break into the J&K Bank branch in Magam town of Budgam district but fail.

February 16, 2017: Rs 3 lakh looted from J&K Bank Turqwangam village in Shopian district.

December 15, 2016: Rs 10 lakh looted from Ratnipora branch in Pulwama district;

December 8, 2016: J&K Bank Arihal branch in Pulwama district looted. Rs 11.1 lakhs to Rs 13.3 lakhs in new currency notes is stolen.

November 23, 2016: Rs 40 lakh looted from the Sarthal branch of J&K Bank branch in Kishtwar district.

November 21, 2016: Malpora branch of J&K Bank looted in Budgam district. The robbers make way with Rs 11to Rs 13 lakh ofold demonetised currency notes.

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