Govt backs army chief's warning to stone-pelters

Forces have free hand to deal with locals: Parrikar

Govt backs army chief's warning to stone-pelters

The central government rallied behind the army after the Opposition raised a stink over the army chief’s tough action warning against people hampering counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir.

Lending support to army chief Bipin Rawat, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the forces have a free hand to deal with local people supporting militants and hampering counter-insurgency operations.

Parrikar, however, clarified that the army never treats “every Kashmiri on the street as a terror sympathiser.”

Union Minister Jitendra Singh, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir, attacked Congress leaders for “speaking the voice of separatists” by condemning General Bipin Rawat’s warning to stone-pelters, who ‘helped’  militants escape during counter-insurgency operations. 

Singh defended General Rawat saying the army chief’s warning was out of concern for civilian safety.

“It is appalling and a matter of concern that the Congress is falling to the temptation of politicising the army chief's statement... This party can go to any extent for political benefits. It is speaking the voice of separatists for political gains,” Singh charged.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wondered whether the “BJP-PDP government giving compensation to families of terrorists didn’t lower the morale of the army.”

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia also attacked the Centre over Rawat’s warning.
“The issue of internal security is serious and there can be no compromise on it.

But as I had said during the last Parliament Session, atrocities should not be inflicted on innocents. Action should be taken against those involved in wrongdoings but there is a need to adopt restraint,” Scindia said.

The situation continued to be tense in Srinagar with stone-pelting and Pakistani flags being hoisted near the Jamia Masjid after Friday prayers.

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