Stone pelting a bigger issue than militancy in Kashmir: IGP Vijay Kumar

IGP Vijay Kumar L) along with GoC Victor Force Rashim Bali addressing media at PCR Srinagar on Monday: Screengrab

Inspector General of Police Kashmir Range, Vijay Kumar on Monday said that stone pelting in the valley was a “bigger issue” than militancy, which he said, “does not make that much difference as compared to law and order situation” arising out of the former.

Kumar was speaking to journalists during a press conference at PCR Srinagar organized in the backdrop of killing of four militants of the LeT outfit in an overnight gunfight in Manihal area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district. GoC Victor Force, Rashim Bali was also present beside Kumar at the event.

The IGP identified the four slain militants as Rayees Ahmad Bhat, Amir Shafi Mir, Yakub Ahmad Malik and Aftab Ahmad Wani while also confirming that an army soldier had been injured in the firefight. Three pistols and an AK rifle were recovered from the slain militants’ possession as per the IGP.

The four slain militants were active, in order, since October last year, February this year only, December last year and November last year, Kumar said.

The IGP said the slain militants were repeatedly asked to surrender, one of them through his wife and a minor child, before the forces, “which they did not and fired at the security forces triggering an encounter”.

Kumar offered militants to surrender “either beforehand or during encounters” even as he said that security forces arrest stone-pelters, “book some under PSA and will keep booking them” under the stringent law.

“If two or three militants attack, no school or college is closed, neither are economic activities or (Amarnath) Yatra. Tourist footfall is also not affected. But when there is a law and order situation, Yatri footfall comes down and tourists also are afraid to come while schools and colleges are also closed. Stone pelting is a larger issue which involves the whole society,” Kumar said in reply to a question over the strategy to book stone pelting youth under the PSA.

“As far as militants are concerned, it is a different thing. Militancy doesn’t make that much difference to us as compared to law and order. We don’t want that educational institutions or business close here, so law and order is a more serious issue for me,” he added.