Kashmir: In four-month militants escape 13 times with stone pelters' help

Kashmir: In four-month militants escape 13 times with stone pelters' help

Kashmir: In four-month militants escape 13 times with stone pelters' help
Notwithstanding the Army chief Bipin Rawat's warning to people who disrupt anti-militancy operations, stone pelting protesters have helped ultras to escape security cordon on 13 occasions during the last almost four months.

An official report reveals that since General Rawat's stern warning on February 16 that those trying to disrupt anti-militancy operations in Kashmir will be treated as "overground workers of terrorists" and can be fired on, security forces carried out 43 anti-militancy operations across the Valley.
Most of these operations have been carried out in south Kashmir districts of Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam, Awantipora and central Budgam district.

"In more than half the operations the civilians pelted stones on the Army and Police to disrupt the operations. Fearing massive collateral damage, the anti-militancy operations at six places were called off before their start," it reveals.

The report says that at 13 places, the protests and subsequent pelting of stones on operational parties lead to escape of the militants. "Less than a week after Army chief’s warning, three militants managed to escape in Tarigam area of Kulgam district after Army cordoned off the area. Massive protests and stone pelting erupted in the area. We burst tear smoke shells, but the protesters and stone pelters entered into the cordoned off area,” reads the report.

“The protests and pelting created chaos and confusion. We retracted because of apprehensions of collateral damage. We have deployed men in plain clothes to track them down. There is always a tomorrow,” it adds.

Similarly, two days before Tarigam operation, the report says, a huge mob raised slogans and pelted stones at security forces who had begun an anti-militancy operation at Warwun-Newa village in Pulwama.

A senior police officer said the trend of flash mobs trying to prevent security forces from cornering militants during counter-insurgency operations is increasing despite the warnings from the police and the army.

"The mobs not only help the militants to escape the security dragnet, but it also leads to higher casualties among the security forces," the officer, who has been at the forefront of counter-insurgency operations for the last more than a decade, revealed.

"Initially, some relatives or close associates of the local militants would march towards the encounter site out of sympathy. However, over a period of time this has become a well-crafted policy, fuelled from across the border, to disrupt security forces during the search and cordon operations," the officer said and added Police have been tasked to ensure that mobile communication is jammed in the area of operations to prevent mobs from assembling.

The civilian support and sympathy for militants have increased since the killing of Burhan Wani which should be of significant concern to the state. "If remedial measures are not taken quickly, the Valley could go back to 90's like situation," sources warned. "There is a well-organised network of over ground workers of militants organisations who organise stone pelting mobs."
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