Police Monday said that local militants operating in Kashmir were "rejecting surrender offers" when they are caught in encounters with the forces.
"We don't intend to kill our own local boys. We do offer them to surrender whenever they are caught in the encounters or wherever they are zeroed in by the forces," Special Director General of Police (DGP), Dr S P Vaid, told Greater Kashmir. He said the directions have been passed to all the SSPs in all the 10 districts to use loud speakers to offer surrender before the encounter breaks out.
"In the recent encounters in South Kashmir, loud speakers were used and the hiding militants were asked to surrender, but they refused and instead opened fire on the forces triggering gun-battles," Vaid said.
He said militants are offered to surrender on the directions passed by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti wherein she has stated that local militants must be spared during encounters.
"We are following Chief Minister's directions in letter and spirit. Our efforts have been to ensure local youth who have picked up arms should return and live a normal life," he said. So far, he said, five new recruits have laid down their weapons. "Three belong to South Kashmir and two are from North Kashmir. Efforts are on to reach out to others as well," he said.
On the anger among the residents of South Kashmir triggered by the recent killing of two militants at Arwani in Bijbehara, the Special DGP said: "There is no change in the strategy of dealing with the militants during encounters. When they open fire, we have to retaliate. But it hurts when we see local youth getting killed."
Police sources assert that at least 50 youth have picked up arms post Burhan Wani killing on July 8 and majority of them belong to South Kashmir. Sources in the Army said that the local youth who joined militant ranks are lured by the easily available material on "jihad and speeches of wanted militants in Pakistan."
"Army too doesn't feel good when a local militant is killed. We support and are rather part of the surrender offer put before the militants caught in the encounters. But when they open fire, we are bound to retaliate," said an army official posted in South Kashmir. He said that Army has launched a series of initiatives to involve youth in various activities.
Asked why surrender offer doesn't make any impact on the minds of local militants, he said: "Everybody loves his/her life (but) these guys are highly motivated, they are ready to get killed. In Arwani encounter, one of the militants engaged us for a long time."