‘Trying to stop locals from taking up arms’

‘Trying to stop locals from taking up arms’
Pic: Mubashir Khan/GK

General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Lt General D P Panday, on Friday said that army was taking measures to curb local recruitment in militant ranks.

"Besides southern Kashmir some parts of central Kashmir are witnessing a cycle of violence. Efforts by the security forces are underway to address the situation," Lt General Pandey told reporters during his maiden new conference here.

The GOC 15 Corps was flanked by Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, and GOC Victor Force, Rashim Bali. They were addressing the news conference in the backdrop of two back to back encounters in southern Kashmir in which seven militants were killed during the last 24 hours.

He appealed to the people for cooperation. "After taking  over as GOC 15 Corps, this is my first new conference," he said, adding that youth were being radicalised. "People must come forward and help us in curbing that."

The top commander said that parents of youth who are in militancy are approaching the army to get their wards back. "They want them to get rehabilitated again even if they have to be in jail for some time," he said. "We are working on preventing local recruitment and block Over Ground Workers and social media platforms that are being used to radicalise youth in Kashmir."

About the Shopian encounter in which five militants were killed, GOC 15 Corps said that one officer and four soldiers of 44 Rashtriya Rifles were injured and they are stable. Replying to a question about the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, he said militants always look for soft targets. "But we will ensure peaceful yatra."

Lt Gen Panday said that the militancy recruitment graph was dwindling. "As compared to previous years, so far it is on decline," he said. "At some time those who won't surrender will be dealt strictly."

IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, said that in two gunfights in Shopian and Tral seven militants were killed and they were from different outfits. "In Tral AGH chief Imtiyaz Shah was killed. He along with another militant had managed his escape from the Shopian encounter last evening," he said adding that Shah was active since 2019.

Kumar said that during that Shopian encounter security forces had to be very patient and exercise maximum restraint. "All SOPs were followed during the operation and the mosque where militants had taken shelter was saved," he said, adding that even the brother of a militant was sent inside to get him surrendered. He said that parents of another militant were also brought to get their ward motivated for surrender. "But they declined the offer," he added.

IGP Kashmir said that during the Shopian operation no IED, grenades of RPGs were used. He said that during the operation joint parties used tear smoke shells. "Two militants from Hizbul Mujahideen, one from LeT and two from AGH were killed and they all were categorised," he said. "We recovered  seven rifles and two pistols from seven slain militants," he said, adding that during the course of operation the sanctity of the mosque was maintained and the structure suffered only minor damage.

The IGP said that some people tried to create disruption during the Shopian encounter. "Some civilians had injuries but they are stable," he said.

The GoC Victor Force Rashim Bali said during the Shopian operation small arms were used and every effort was made to make the militants surrender. "I was getting orders from the GOC 15 Corps to use minimum force and do not allow any damage to mosque," he said, adding that soldiers on ground have been directed to respect local sentiment.

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