Strong arm needed
Instead of making an appeal to people in Kashmir to stay away from the place of encounters authorities in Jammu and Kashmir should have allowed the security forces to deal with terrorists and their supporters or sympathisers with a strong arm. Govt’s move to impose prohibitory orders within the radius of three kilometers of an encounter sight though is welcome but looks to have come very late. The damage done cannot be repaired. The decision came a day after Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat warned of tough action against those hampering counter- insurgency operations. District Administrations of Srinagar, Budgam and Shopian have advised people not to move towards or assemble near the places where encounters take place. Besides these orders what government needs to do is make sure no stone-pelting on security men takes place nor they would be attacked by the people and hamper their anti-terrorist operations. The security agencies should be given a free-hand to deal with the ground situation. Gen Rawat’s warning came in the wake of an incident in Bandipora few days back where the soldiers faced heavy stone-pelting when they were about to launch an operation against militants holed up in a house. Alerted by the stone-pelters, the militants got an opportunity to hurl hand grenades and empty a few magazines of AK-rifles into the advancing troopers, leaving three jawans dead and injuring some others, including a Commanding Officer of CRPF. It has often been noticed that some locals stage protests and pelt stones on security forces whenever any operation is undertaken to take on militants in Kashmir. Earlier in May last also Army had cautioned of using force if its counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir are hindered by separatists crowds. A new trend has emerged in Kashmir Valley. It is not just massive attendance in militant funerals – a routine occurrence now, which has got security officials worried – people in large numbers come out of their homes and start chanting pro-Azadi slogans on seeing security forces arriving in their area to take on militants. Often they move close to encounter sites and even target security forces with stones if they try to come in their way. In several such cases in the recent past, womenfolk also joined them and sung traditional Wanwon to encourage the trapped or holed up militants. The State government should come out with pro-active policies to contain the residual militancy and take a strong stand against sympathizers and trouble creators.