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Monday, May 2, 2016

Army to flag issue of crowd attacks at Unified Hqs meeting with Mehbooba

Stone pelting crowds helped 6 militants escape in two operations on April 28

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, April 30: Highly perturbed over escaping of at least 20 militants with the local crowds’ support in different counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir valley in the last four months---six in Kupwara and Anantnag on April 28---Army has decided to prominently highlight the law and order issue in Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s first Unified Headquarters meeting on May 10th.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command Lt Gen D.S. Hooda, besides GOCs of Srinagar-based 15 Corps and Nagrota-based 16 Corps, sources said, would flag the issue of the local crowds’ attacks on the security forces during the counter-insurgency operations at the high level meeting at SKICC. Army has noted with concern that its warnings issued in February this year have not yielded any results.

“As a matter of the fact, such attacks on the troops (engaged in an operation) have increased and intensified in the last three months. Wherever we launch an operation on the basis of specific operation about presence of militants at a hideout, we meet huge resistance from the local population. At least three civilians lost their lives in two operations in Pulwama district alone. It’s a matter of huge concern for Army as we are neither equipped with batons and teargas nor trained to deal with such situations”, a senior Army officer told STATE TIMES.

The officer said that dealing with crowds and demonstrators was essentially the responsibility of the State Police. He claimed that around 20 militants escaped since January this year in different operations when local crowds gathered, attacked security forces with stones, shouted slogans and used public address system of the community mosques to mobilise people and fail our operations.

On specific information, Army, with Police and paramilitary forces, launched two separate operations at Kanthpora in Kupwara and Anantnag town on April 28. Even as one unidentified militant got killed in exchange of fire with the Army in Kupwara, three of his associates, according to sources, managed to escape. Like in several areas of South Kashmir, residents gathered and failed Army’s operation while shouting slogans and pelting stones and brickbats of the troops.

Similarly, three unidentified militants made good their escape after the local residents attacked Army with stones and shouted anti-India, anti-Army, pro-Azadi and pro-Pakistan slogans on the same day. “Troops observed maximum possible restraint as the attack on them came from the population in the Chief Minister’s home constituency.

While as Ms Mufti represents Anantnag constituency in Lok Sabha, his father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who later became Chief Minister, was returned for Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly in Anantnag segment. Ms Mufti is expected to resign her Lok Sabha membership and contest Assembly election from her father’s vacated seat of Anantnag. Mufti passed away on January 7th this year.

For the time being, authorities have decided to impose restrictions under section 144 of Cr PC in the areas of 3 Km radius from the spot of an operation. However, a policy would be framed in the Unified Headquarters meeting that would also be attended by Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary Home, DGP J&K Police, Special DG CRPF, representatives of the Central intelligence agencies and Divisional Commissioners and IGPs of Kashmir and Jammu divisions.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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