Ready to conduct Amarnath Yatra: Army

Stating that Improvised Explosives Devices were a challenge for security forces, Army on Tuesday said that they are ready for Amarnath Yatra which is going to commence in coming months.

This was stated by a senior Army officer during an interaction with a selected group of senior journalists at the headquarters of 1-Sector Rashtriya Rifles based at Khanabal in Anantnag district of southern Kashmir.

The senior Army officer said that they are ready for Amarnath Yatra. “In the coming time we will be dominating peaks,” he said. “For the purpose we will be carrying out combing operations of peaks.”

The officer said the Army along with other security agencies will make yatra a success and peaceful. “We have wonderful synergy with police and other securities agencies,” he said. “This can be gauged through anti-militancy operations we together carried out last year.”

“IEDs are becoming a challenge, but we have mechanisms and we are dealing with it effectively,” the senior officer said.

Pertinently, in the last weeks some IEDs were defused by the security forces and recently one in the outskirts of Srinagar.

The officer said that mechanism is also in place to stop entry of weapons in southern Kashmir. “Now drones are being used to pump weapons here and there has been huge recoveries in Jammu region, particularly along IB,” he said. “We have succeeded in stopping the efforts that are there round the clock.”

The officer said that besides IEDs, social media and OGWs are challenging. “The OGW environment is being nipped in the bud,” he said. “Once funds are stopped, they will die a natural death and funds to them have almost stopped coming.”

“Radicalisation and incitation is taking place with the help of social media, besides rumour mongering,” he said. “We are addressing it with a lot of seriousness.”

He said that not handing over militants’ bodies to their families has also helped in stopping glamorisation. “During the funerals more youth would get inclined and there used to be anti-national slogans,” he said adding that by not handing over the bodies that has stopped and eventually helped in less recruitment of locals in militant ranks.

The officer said that recruitment of youth in militant ranks have come down drastically. “Now the youth and parents have realized,” he said, adding that even gun wielding youth are leaving the path. “We feel happy and try to get them surrendered and lead a normal life.”

The officer during the interaction gave a powerpoint presentation showing a local militant surrendering and how soldiers are evacuating civilians from an encounter site in southern Kashmir. “During an operation we waited for 28 hours as militants had taken refuge in a mosque in a southern Kashmir village,” he said. “We killed all the three militants and no bullet was fired at the mosque.”

Another officer present during interaction said that they are carrying our regular public outreach. “There is no doubt we also contact militants’ families so that they can motivate their wards to surrender,” he said. “At places, because of fervent appeals by the parents, militants have surrendered.”

The journalists were also taken to the Community Radio Station set up in Anantnag, besides a youth club.