Kashmiri separatists further incite valley public to riot against security forces

| Updated: Feb 22, 2017 01:47 IST

By Col. (Retired) Anil Bhat New Delhi [India], Feb.21 (ANI): Four months of rioting and burning of schools across the Kashmir Valley by public incited and paid for by separatists ended suddenly in November 2016, shortly after demonetization. Because large numbers of Rs 500/- and Rs.1000/- denomination notes allegedly sent by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to separatists and their wide network of agents, transported/stored even- in gas cylinders- for organising/financing agitations, rioting/stone-pelting, lobbing grenades etc, became waste-paper overnight. But the lull did not last for very long, because obviously, terror funding got 'remonetised' by fresh fake currency ingenuously imitated by ISI and robbing banks by its terrorists, as again there have been disturbing reports about security forces being surrounded and even stoned by mobs in areas where anti-terrorist operations were on and actually assisting terrorists to escape. From January to December 2016, there were ten major incidents in various parts of the valley, of Kashmiri public, particularly youth, stymieing operations by Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu Kashmir Police (JKP) by agitating, stone-pelting or even firing from automatic stolen or illegally provided to them or firing from such weapons by terrorists mingling with agitators. Of these, there were three incidents after 'remonetising', from late November till December. January 2017 was an exceptionally cold month with excessive snow inhibiting terrorist activity. In February, there have been at least five incidents of instigating locals to heckle the security forces during their anti-terrorist operations. Another indicator of ISI/separatists upping the ante this year is that while in the first 45 days of 2015 and 2016, ten terrorists each were killed, in the same period this year 22 terrorists have been killed. However, what is most alarming is the aggressive interference of the local populace reaching new levels. On February 14, when late Major Satish Dahiya and his detachment of troops were fighting against terrorists at Kralgund village of Handwara area in Kupwara district, the heckling during the operation rose to the extent that the ambulance in which a seriously injured Major Dahiya was being evacuated was stopped and delayed by the interfering crowd. Eventually troops had to open fire on the unrelenting crowd to extricate the ambulance, but the delay resulted in Major Dahiya losing his life before reaching the 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar. October 14 was a day when two major encounters occurred. In the first encounter, a top commander of Lashker-e-Taiyyaba (LeT) and three soldiers were killed, while 11 security forces personnel and a civilian were injured in north Kashmir's Bandipora district. Based on specific intelligence about the presence of a group of four LeT militants at Parray Mohalla in Hajin, a joint operation was launched by the army, CRPF and Jammu and JKP. As the security forces were laying a cordon around the village, they came under heavy fire from the hiding militants in which 15 security personnel, including Major Thapa of 13 Rashtriya Rifles and Commandant Chetan Cheetah of 45 Battalion CRPF were injured and in retaliatory action, one terrorist was killed. The second encounter was the one led by Major Dahiya. It is indeed very ironic that the same Kashmir valley populace which has over the years been helped during calamities by the Army and who often benefited from the Army's welfare programmes have been motivated by separatists loyal to Pakistan to stymie Indian security forces anti-terror operations. The agitators, predominantly youth, whose education the separatists have calculatedly tried to destroy and whose lives they are now playing with, are probably not aware of the repetition of the cycle of Pakistan army/ISI severely damaging the interests of their parents' generation in the late 1980s onwards and how stability was brought back by the Army. The same pattern with some more sinister modifications is now being repeated. And this time it is not only stone-pelting but also shouting slogans supporting Pakistan and the ISIS, with much waving of flags of both. For the first time also many next of the kin of Indian Army martyrs of anti-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir have collectively raised their voices to protest that the Army must be supported and not terrorists. On February 15, when Army Chief General Bipin Rawat paid tribute to the mortal remains of Major Dahiya and his fallen comrades at Air Force Station Palam, New Delhi, he minced no words in saying that the army will be constrained to respond. "Terrorists are now concentrating into villages and built-up areas from the jungles because staying in jungles for them has become difficult and therefore as they are coming to the villages where there is civil population, we have to conduct operations because these are the same terrorists who will then create trouble and cause violence for the local population...our aim is to bring peace and tranquility into the Kashmir Valley... We find that local population somehow is not being supportive of the actions of the security forces. While our aim has been to conduct people- friendly operations, but the local population is preventing us from conducting the operations...at times it is even supporting the terrorists to escape. And it is these factors leading to higher causalities of the security forces. All that I can say is, we would now request the local population that those who have picked up arms are the local boys...if they want to continue with these acts of terrorism, displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, then, we will treat them as anti-national elements and go after them. They may survive today, but we will get them tomorrow. And our relentless operations will continue. Those from amongst the population who are not supporting the security forces in bringing peace and tranquility, we may have to adopt some harsher measures. People who are indulging in stone throwing, people who are indulging in supporting the terrorists and helping them escape will be treated like over ground workers of the terrorists and will be dealt with accordingly. I would once again like to request the parents of these young boys who, somehow because of propaganda that has come in social media, have taken the path of violence, to return back. We are giving them an opportunity. Should they want to continue, we will continue relentless operations, may be with harsher measures and that is the way it will continue..Our idea is not to kill these young boys. Our idea is to bring them into the main stream. But if they wish to remain in this manner, we will target them with harsher measures". Replying to another query by media, that if the stone-pelting youth do not relent, will the army fire at them, General Rawat explained that the army only uses small arms and its aim has always been to use them only against terrorists, while adopting a very soft approach towards our own people. But if out of our own people, any person obstructs the army or causes damage or danger to it, then, the army will not hesitate to use the same weapons against them. Replying to yet another query from media as to whether infiltration and terrorist attacks is continuing unabated, the army chief referred to instances in the Samba sector across the International Boundary under the Border Security Force, where a tunnel had been discovered and also to the killing of some personnel of the Border Roads Organisation. To another question about Pakistani authorities making an issue of three Pakistan Army soldiers being killed in Bhimber Gali area near the Line of Control, General Rawat clarified that during any anti-terrorist action or during infiltration, if any Pakistan Army personnel were found supporting the terrorists, they would be fired at and that Pakistan Army should be prepared for such consequences. Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir informed the Rajya Sabha that additional companies of Central Armed Police Forces were also deployed to support the JKP, which registered 2513 FIRs in which 4372 accused were arrested. Further, 525 notices under section 25 of Police Act were served. 472 persons were detained under Public Safety Act, including terrorists, over ground workers), separatists, stone pelters, instigators, criminals and others. The views expressed in the above article are that of Col. (Retired) Anil Bhat. (ANI)