Day after Army Chief Bipin Rawat said people creating hurdles during anti-militancy operations in J&K would be dealt as “anti-nationals and will face harsh actions”, the State Government on Thursday issued public advisory asking people to stay away from counter-insurgency operation sites for their “own safety.”
In an official statement, the district administrations of Srinagar, Budgam and Shopian advised people not to move towards or assemble near the places where encounters take place between security forces and militants to avoid loss and injuries to precious human lives.
“The prohibitory restrictions have been imposed within the radius of three kilometers from the site of any counter-insurgency operation in the districts,” said the official statement.
Defending the move, the Government spokesman Naeem Akther said: “It is always good to stay away from harm. The militants take refuge in houses to avoid direct hit while forces use shield, bunkers and armored vehicles to protect themselves during gunfights. It is good for civilians not to go to these sites.”
When contacted, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer A Khan said the advisory has been issued to prevent the loss of civilian lives during encounters.
He said government has issued directions to all the DCs to issue such advisories asking people not to venture towards gunfight sites.
“While some DCs have issued advisories today, others will be issuing similar instructions in next few days,” he said.
The restrictions shall however not apply to the movement of ambulances, medical, paramedical staff and government employees.
The government issued the warning day after the Army Chief issued stern message over the issue, saying security forces in J&K were facing higher casualties due to manner in which the local population was preventing them in conducting the operations and "at times even supporting the terrorists to escape."
“We would now request the local population that people who have picked up arms, and they are the local boys, if they want to continue with the acts of terrorism displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, then we will treat them as anti-national elements and go helter-skelter for them,” the army chief said in New Delhi. "They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue," said the Army Chief.