Fresh intelligence inputs suggest that protesters in Kashmir are even likely to use petrol bombs to attack security forces, which can cause much greater damage to property and life.
As politics heats up after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar backed Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s remark that Kashmiri youths creating hurdles in counter-terror operations or displaying Pakistan or ISIS flags would be treated as anti-national, there are fresh intelligence inputs to suggest that protesters are even likely to use petrol bombs to attack security forces, which can cause much greater damage to property and life.
It is learnt that Pakistan’s ISI has directed its proxies in the Kashmir Valley to intensify their operations against the security forces. Women and youth are being instigated to resort to this form of protest against the security forces.
Earlier today, backing the Army chief’s view, Parrikar said, “In CICT (Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism) operations, government has given a total, free hand to the Army to crack down on terrorists. Anyone who obstructs is obviously trying to help terrorists.”
What Parrikar Said
“Those who obstruct the operations are trying to protect the terrorists and his (General Rawat’s) comment is based on that. In these matters, the decision to act will be the commanding (officer) or the officer who is on the spot. It cannot be generalised,” Parrikar told India Today.
Acknowledging that the hostile conduct of locals was causing higher casualties in the Kashmir valley, Rawat on Wednesday had warned those attacking security forces during anti-militancy operations of “tough action”.
General Rawat said those supporting terror activities are being given an opportunity to join the national mainstream but, if they continue with their acts, security forces will come down hard on them.
Jammu and Kashmir Govt Issues Advisory
Jammu and Kashmir government has issued an advisory for people of the state, asking them to stay away from encounter sites.
Congress, BJP Fight it Out
Replying to a query on the Army chief’s remarks, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said restraint should be adopted by security forces while dealing with people in the state.
The BJP accused the Congress of speaking in the voice of separatists and politicising the Army for “lowly political gains” while defending Rawat’s statement on tough action against locals hampering counter-militancy operations in Kashmir.
Voices from Other Opposition Parties
This government’s Kashmir policy is a complete failure, says CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.
This wanton killing, licence to kill has hurt the psyche of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and will only serve to alienate them from New Delhi, says National Conference leader Mustafa Kamal.
The development has even strained ties between the PDP and BJP, the two ruling parties in the Jammu and Kashmir government.
PDP leader Sartaj Madani has said, “The Army chief should not have said what he did. We are only interested in embracing those Kashmiri youth, who have drifted away from us and feel alienated.”
This is likely to make it much more difficult for the Army to rein in protesters. The Army has been asked by the Centre to exercise maximum restraint after several Kashmiri youths suffered serious injuries by pellet guns in the wake of the unrest in the Valley following militant Burhan Wani’s killing in July last year.