Top Army commanders on Thursday met J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti here and "assured her of all possible help to restore normalcy in Kashmir", officials said. The Army however left the ball in J&K government's court on the requirement of soldiers being called out to deal with the ongoing unrest, they said.
Army's Srinagar-based spokesman Lt Colonel NN Joshi said Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda, who was accompanied by GoC of Army's 15 Corps Lt Gen Satish Dua, met Mehbooba at her Gupkar residence and "discussed the prevailing security situation in the Valley."
Hooda, according to the spokesman, assured the Chief Minister that Army will provide all possible assistance to the state government to "bring peace at the earliest."
Sources, privy to the meeting which lasted for more than an hour, said "all the aspects of the ongoing unrest were discussed."
"The Army commander told the Chief Minister that they are ready to play a part in restoring normalcy in Kashmir. The requirement of flag marches or allowing army to deal with the situation in some sensitive areas on the eve of August 15 was however left to the state government to decide," they said.
A senior Army official said it's up to the state government to decide and to take a call on "flag marches."
"Army can't come out of its own. Unless there is a proper request, Army can't be called out. So the ball is entirely in the state government's court," he said.
Sources said the trio discussed the South Kashmir public rallies in detail and also "the surfacing of militants there."
"If the situation takes an ugly turn, Army may be asked to deal with the situation or carry out a flag march or two in some sensitive areas of South Kashmir," they said.
Meanwhile, the Northern Army Commander appealed all sections of the society, especially youth, to "exercise calm and maintain peace", the spokesman said.
"He stated that the prevailing state of violence has caused a lot of losses in terms of education of children, damage to public property, losses to traders and daily wagers and has badly affected tourism," the spokesman said. "The most precious loss is that of young people who the sole breadwinners of their families were."
Earlier in the day, Lt General Hooda visited various areas of Kashmir and reviewed the security situation and "collaborative measures" of forces towards ensuring peace and calm in the region.
Hooda stressed on the need to maintain high vigil. "He urged the troops to continue exercising maximum restraint in dealing with the protesting crowds and sensitize the people especially the youth to eschew violence to usher in peace at the earliest," the spokesman said.