New Delhi: Indian Army chief General BipinRawat has said the youth in Kashmir must not get “carried away unnecessarily” and understand “azadi” is not possible as the security forces will always fight those who want to secede.
In an interview with Indian Express on Thursday,Rawatsaidhe was concerned that the youth in the strife-torn state are picking up guns and “those who tell them (that) this path will bring azadi … misleading them”.
“These numbers (of militants who are killed in gunbattles with the army) don’t matter to me because I know this cycle will continue. There are fresh recruitments happening. I only want to stress that all this is futile, nothing is going to be achieved by them. You can’t fight the army,” Gen Rawat said.
Gen Rawat said that Army was ready to “suspend” military operations in the valley to avoid civilian killings but hastened to add that there was no guarantee that militants too will suspend their attacks on the forces and refrain from targeting civilians.
“…who will guarantee that there won’t be fire at our men, at our vehicles? Who will guarantee that policemen, political workers, our men returning home on leave aren’t attacked, aren’t killed?’’ he asked.
The general reiterated that “there isn’t a military solution to this issue” and wants politicians and political representatives to talk to people, especially in south Kashmir.
“But they are scared that they will be attacked. It will happen once there is calm. And we are hopeful that people will soon realise that all this is futile and start thinking differently,” he said.
He said that the security forces “don’t enjoy” killing but if anyone wants to “fight us then we will fight you with all our force”.
“Kashmiris have to understand that the SFs (security forces) haven’t been so brutal — look at Syria and Pakistan. They use tanks and air power in similar situations. Our troops have been trying their level best to avoid any civilian casualty despite huge provocation,’’ he said.
“I know that the youth are angry. But attacking security forces, throwing stones at us isn’t the way,” he said.
Interestingly, barely a month back Rawat admitted that there was a no win situation in Kashmir and neither army nor the militants would achieve anything through the violence.
On April, 15, Rawat had said that: radicalised youth of Kashmir would soon realise that the gun was not the solution to their problem as neither the army nor the terrorists would achieve their goals through it.
Peace, according to him was the only way to improve the situation in Kashmir that had been witnessing insurgency for about three decades now.
Rawat in his interview expressed concern over people flocking to sites of gunbattles and “inciting security forces by pelting stones at them to disrupt the operations … They are inciting security forces to become more aggressive.’’
“I don’t understand why people are coming out in huge numbers to disrupt our operations. Who is inciting them? If they want that the militants aren’t killed, they should go and tell them to come out without their weapons so that nobody is killed … We will halt our operation. We can’t allow people to disrupt our operations and help terrorists to flee,” he told the Indian Express.
The general said the army, which has been criticised for using extreme force in the state, “did try a soft approach too” and pointed out to the violence in 2016 after HizbulMujahideen’sBurhanWani was killed in a gunfight with security forces.
“… Until June 2016, everything was fine. What is that incited people so much because of that one encounter? Everything was turned upside down in a few days’ time. The entire South Kashmir was out in the streets, throwing stones at us, attacking our posts,” he said.
He said he was getting messages that people in the state were saying “azadidurnahihai (azadi isn’t far away)” by October-November that year.
“Somebody was feeding this to people, telling them Azadi was around the corner. Our posts were being regularly attacked. Stones were being pelted at our men … We had to bring the situation under control. We couldn’t afford all that. We needed to tell people Azadi isn’t happening. We had to establish the writ (of the state)”.
“(The BurhanWani encounter) wasn’t the first such encounter in Kashmir … I am still trying to understand where did all that anger come from. The youth have gotten themselves in Pakistan’s trap. They are being consistently incited to attack us,’’ he said.
He added that youngsters, who have picked up guns, and terrorists aren’t a big challenge for the army and that the army has repeatedly asked people not to come to disrupt their operations and throw stones at security personnel.
Highway suicide bombing: 5 more CRPF men succumb, death toll 49
Srinagar, Feb 15: Five more personnel of the paramilitary CRPF succumbed to their injuries late Thursday evening and early Friday morning taking the number of those dead in Thursday’s suicide attack on Kashmir highway to 49.
On Thursday afternoon at about quarter past three, a massive suicide bombing took place on the highway near Lethpora in Awantipora town of Pulwama district, about 20 kilometres away from the city-centre here.
A local Jaish militant rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into a convoy of CRPF vehicles coming from Jammu, ripping apart one of the buses, which had 44 personnel aboard, while causing substantial damage to at least two other buses.
Quoting an official of the CRPF, local news agency Global News Service confirmed that five more critically wounded soldiers succumbed to injuries in the army hospital Thursday evening and Friday morning taking the death-toll of the slain troopers to 49.
“While a total of 44 CRPF men belonging to different battalions were travelling in one vehicle, 39 others were travelling in another,” the CRPF official said.
He added that the CRPF men belonged to 3rd, 17th, 21st, 45th, 54th, 61st, 76th, 82nd, 92nd, 98th, 118th and 176th battalions.
“None from the bus carrying 44 CRPF men survived. Five of the injured among those travelling in another bus succumbed, one of them yesterday (Thursday),” he said.
Militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad in a statement on Thursday had said that their militant, Adil Ahmad Dar alias Waqas Commando, a resident of Pulwama, was the attacker who drove the vehicle (an SUV) and carried out the suicide attack.
The bus which bore the major brunt was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying over 2,500 troopers of the paramilitary force.
On Friday, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at Humhama here and was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other officials of the Union Ministry and state government.
Quoting official sources, news agency GNS said that bodies of 40 of the slain were identified while body parts of nine others were collected and would be sent to their native villages after confirmation.
“Nine of the slain CRPF men, the agency reported, are beyond identification and now DNA test would be conducted to identify their body parts.
“The nine personnel are known but their body parts are not differentiable and now DNA tests are being done,” the news agency reported, adding, “the samples have been taken and would be matched with their relatives.”
CRPF spokesperson Ashish Kumar Jha, the news agency reported, said that bodies of forty personnel have been sent to their respective villages for the last rites.
Asked about the DNA sampling and missing personnel, the spokesman, as per GNS, refused to comment and dropped the phone.
On Friday, a team of NIA visited the scene of the attack and thoroughly searched the area and collected samples for forensic investigations. “The nature of explosive used and quantity used would be revealed during investigations,” reports said. (With inputs from GNS)
Civilian traffic to be restricted during convoy movement: Rajnath
Srinagar, Feb 15: Home Minister Rajnath Singh Friday helped carry the coffin of one of the slain CRPF personnel after he laid a wreath on the mortal remains of the troops, who were killed in a suicide attack in Kashmir on Thursday, officials said.
Shortly after arriving in Srinagar from Delhi, the home minister attended a solemn function here where the mortal remains of over 40 CRPF personnel were kept in coffins, draped with tri-colour.
Singh helped carry the coffin of a slain CRPF personnel before it was flown out of J&K in a special aircraft.
Apart from Rajnath, J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, CRPF Director General R R Bhatnagar, Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbagh Singh besides others attended the wreath laying ceremony.
“The nation will not forget the supreme sacrifice of our brave CRPF jawans. I have paid my last respects to the martyrs of Pulwama. The sacrifice will not go in vain,” Singh said.
The dignitaries stood in silence till the coffins were loaded in a truck which went to the Srinagar airport, the official said.
Later during a press conference, Rajnath Singh said that he has asked the officers to review the security provided to people “taking money from Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI.”
In an apparent reference to separatist leaders, Singh, according to news agency ANI said: “There are some elements who are hand in glove with militant organisations, and ISI across the border. They are involved in conspiracies too. They are toying with the future of the people, especially the youth, of J&K.”
“There are some elements here who take money from Pakistan and ISI. I have told the officers that the security provided to such people should be reviewed,” he said.
The Home Minister also called for restricted “civilian traffic” on the highways during the movement of the convoys of the security forces.
“Civilian traffic movement will be restricted for some time during movement of army and security forces convoys. This may cause inconvenience and I apologise for this but this is necessary for safety of jawans,” Singh said after heading a high-level security review meeting.
At least 49 Central Reserve Police Force personnel lost their lives in Pulwama attack in which a convoy of 78 vehicles of the force was targeted. Militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed the responsibility for the attack and released a video of the suspected attacker, which it identified as a local youth.
Militants committed biggest mistake, forces have full freedom now: PM
New Delhi, Feb 15: A day after at least 49 CRPF troopers were killed in a major suicide attack in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the militants have committed their “biggest mistake” and those responsible have to pay.
“We have given complete freedom to the security forces of the country. We have full faith in their bravery and valour,” Modi said while addressing a programme to flag-off the first indigenous Train 18, renamed as Vande Bharat Express at the New Delhi Railway Station.
Addressing the militant groups, the Prime Minister said: “Even those who are giving them shelters are responsible and have committed their worst mistake. They have to pay a very big price.”
Modi also assured the nation that “those powers who are behind the attack will be punished for their deeds”.
Hitting out at Pakistan, without naming it, “Our neighbouring country has already been sidelined by the international community; despite that if it feels it can create problem for India by creating instability, it’s their mistake.”
His remarks came minutes after the Cabinet Committee on Security that decided to withdraw the “Most Favoured Nation” status given to Pakistan.
He then inspected the engine-less Train 18 that has been renamed Vande Bharat Express and flagged it off at 11.20 a.m.
Train 18, the country’s first engine-less train manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, left from New Delhi railway station at 10 a.m. for Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Modi. (IANS)