Kashmir's Inspector General of Police Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani on Monday said militants have launched a "psychological warfare" in the Valley by resorting to uploading of videos on various social networking sites. He said steps are underway to "defeat their motives." He was addressing a press conference here.
Replying to a question whether police had taken steps to prevent the militants from uploading videos on various social networking sites despite an official ban on various internet-based applications, he said: "We have taken steps that include blocking the applications and networking sties to counter their designs."
Despite ban on 22 social networking sites including widely-used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, militants have managed to upload some fresh videos, throwing a major challenge for the security agencies. In a recent video, a group of 30 militants is seen parading in an orchard and in another video, a militant is seen imparting training to his fellow colleagues on how to target forces.
Asked whether banning social media sites has helped police somehow, Gilani claimed there "has been some positive effect."
'200 MILITANTS ACTIVE'
The Kashmir Police chief said around 200 militants are active in Kashmir of which 110 are locals and rest "foreigners." Asked how many local boys joined militancy since last year, Gilani said 95. He said this number, however, is "not alarming."
'OUTSIDE ELEMENTS LURING STUDENTS'
On continuing student protests across Kashmir, the IGP said the student unrest started on April 12 from Pulwama degree college where students stoned an army vehicle after coming out on road. "The students also hurled stones on a police naka," he said. "The incident provided a trigger for many other institutions. But today, 95 per cent schools are functioning normally in Kashmir."
Gilani said on May 6, students in Handwara School took to streets and hurled stones on a BSF camp and disrupted normal traffic. "Our investigations into the incident revealed that some people from outside spent money to lure students to foment trouble (in Handwara). These elements instigated students," he alleged. "We are providing counselling and also appealing parents to urge their children to stay away from lawlessness."
He said district administrations are also counselling students in this regard.
On the assertions made by Education Minister Syed Altaf Buhkari that all the arrested students would be released, the IGP said: "Police doesn't want confrontation with the students. We have exercised maximum restraint while dealing with the student protests. We will provide counselling to the students." He said there were 28 incidents of student protests so far across Kashmir.
'LeT, Hizb behind bank robberies'
The Kashmir police chief said bank robberies started in October last year and recently "we had two incidents in a single day."
"Last year four such cases were registered and two this year. Through CCTV footages, eyewitness accounts and other evidences, we have come to the conclusion that Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba militants are involved in these acts," Gilani said.
He said the militants involved in the acts have been identified. "Abu Ali, one of the militants, involved in bank robbery, was killed in Budgam district. Those involved in bank robbery cases will either be arrested or eliminated soon," he said.
ON KILLING OF POLITICAL WORKERS
After elections were announced for South Kashmir, political workers were targeted, the IGP said. He said PDP district president for Pulwama was recently killed by militants. "An Over Ground Worker (OGW), who facilitated PDP district president's killing, has been arrested. A lawyer, who had passed on information about the slain to militants has also been arrested," he said.
'SOUTH KASHMIR POCKETS A CHALLENGE'
"Situation in South and North Kashmir is normal while there are some pockets in South Kashmir where we have some challenges. It's not that entire South Kashmir is tense. There is no law and order problem in north and central Kashmir," he said.
"We have taken certain measures to ensure smooth encounters to prevent collateral damage at the gunfight sites," the IGP said while replying to queries whether any measures have been taken to prevent civilian causalities at encounter sites. He said forces are following the set Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to avoid collateral damage.
'40 RIFLES SNATCHED'
The IGP said militants have managed to snatch 40 rifles form forces personnel on duty in Kashmir since January 2016.
"They have snatched 40 files and it started from attack on Dhamhal Hanjipora in South Kashmir during last year's protests (triggered by Burhan Wani's killing)," he told reporters here. He said some stolen files were, however, recovered by the police.
The IGP was flanked by Deputy Inspector Generals of North, South and Central Kashmir—Nitesh Kumar, S P Pani and Ghulam Hassan Bhat, respectively.