New Delhi, May 08: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the armed forces should not be blamed for Kashmiri youths joining militants, indicating that there will be no relaxation in the government’s tough policy on dealing with “violent extremism”.
“I think we need to understand the issue which is very sensitive with a great deal of nuance. You cannot hold the armed forces responsible for being firm with militants. We need to be firm,” Sitharaman told reporters here.
She was replying to a question if a spike in the number of local youths, particularly the educated, taking to arms in Kashmir was a direct consequence of the government’s tough policy in dealing with militancy in the state.
Sitharaman, on the sidelines of the biannual Naval Commanders’ conference here, said the death of a tourist from Chennai in a stone-pelting incident on Monday in the Kashmir Valley only proved how the armed forces “need to be firm with militants and ensure safe movement of tourists”.
Without mentioning Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s recent appeal to the Centre for “compassion and empathy… by engaging in a meaningful dialogue”, the Defence Minister recalled how the PDP leader had herself been making passionate invites to tourists to visit the state.
“I am sure the Chief Minister has said and has been keen on getting more tourists to Kashmir because that will also help in restoring normalcy. So if that has been the stated desire, for a stone-pelting incident to have hurt and killed the tourist, certainly is not very conducive to that very rightful suggestion of the Chief Minister that we need to have more tourists.”
She said everything could not be “put at the doorstep of the armed forces”.
“The Army has to be firm as regards terrorists. But at the same time, I appreciate that we need to have a lot more free moment of tourists, safe moment of tourists so that normalcy can be restored. And what happened yesterday is absolutely unfortunate.
“It cannot be accommodative for a tourist to be killed. And I don’t know if it was inadvertent or knowingly (done). But it is completely condemnable.”
The BJP government, since it came to power in May 2014, has said it would deal firmly with who engage in violence and support militants.
In the last four years, some 680 militants have been killed in counter-militancy operations in the Kashmir Valley, including 72 in the first four months of 2018, according to data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), run by New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management
. Militancy-related violence has also killed 291 security personnel.
Some analysts blame the government’s iron fist policy vis-a-vis the militants in Kashmir, saying it further radicalizes and isolates the youths caught in a vicious cycle of violence.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also said the death of a tourist in an incident of stone-pelting in Kashmir was not conducive to attracting tourists to Jammu and Kashmir.
“We need to be firm with militants and ensure safe movement of tourists, said Sitharaman while addressing a press conference after inaugurating the Naval Commanders’ conference here. The state wanted to promote tourism, the minister said.
Speaking about maritime strength, she said, “India will be a force to reckon with in the Indo-Pacific. All of Navy’s demands for the year 2017-2018 have been met.”
ASI among three cops injured in Rajbagh grenade blast
Srinagar, Jan 17: Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of police and two traffic cop were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh area of Srinagar city in Central Kashmir on Thursday afternoon.
Reports said that suspected militants lobbed a grenade on police party near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh.
In the blast, three policemen including an ASI of police and two traffic policemen sustained splinter injuries and were evacuated to SMHS hospital for treatment.
The injured has been identified as Iqbal Singh (ASI of JKAP 14 Bn) and traffic policemen Haris Manzoor (SPO) and Sanullah (Head Constable).
While ASI Iqbal has sustained splinter injuries to both of his legs, Haris suffered an injury to the back side of his neck and Sanullah suffered injuries in his right leg.
SSP Srinagar Imtiaz Ismail Parray confirmed the attack and subsequent injuries to the ASI and two traffic cops.
Soon after the attack, the government forces cordoned off the area and launched a hunt to nab the attackers.
Security forces have launched a massive search operation in Rajbagh and adjoining areas near Zero Bridge after three police personnel including assistant sub-inspector were injured in a grenade attack by the terrorists on Thursday.
Homes and hotels in the area were searched frisking was also carried out. It was the first major terrorist attack in the Srinagar city this year. The injured cops are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Meanwhile Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibly of the grenade attack on the forces’ party at Raj Bagh area of Srinagar.
A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan in a statement claimed that two forces personnel were killed and 6 critically injured in the attack.
An ASI of police and two traffic cops were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge, Raj Bagh in Thursday afternoon.
2018 has been remarkable year for forces: Army commander
Srinagar, Jan 17: A top army commander on Thursday described 2018 as “remarkable year” for government forces, saying that more than 250 militants were killed, 54 others were arrested and four others surrendered in Kashmir Valley.
“The year 2018 has been a remarkable year for armed forces on the security front. As per the record of last ten years, army along with other forces have neutralized many militants. Many militants have surrendered under pressure and many others were arrested alive,” said Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, GoC-in-C Northern Command told reporters after inaugurating Kalai Bridge constructed by Border Roads Organization.
“More than 250 militants were killed, 54 others arrested and four others have surrendered,” he said, adding, “This speaks about the strength of our security establishment,” the officer said.
He said that the army was giving “befitting reply” to Pakistan army along the Line of Control whenever there were instances of any ceasefire violation or snipping.
“As per wireless and other intercepts, Pakistan army and militants suffered a huge loss in our retaliatory action.”
The Kalai Bridge spans over Suran River and connects Kalai area to Chandak area in Poonch district. During the inaugural function, the Army Commander addressed the gathering of Army, GREF and local residents and said that the Kalai bridge is an important milestone towards enhancing the road communication in the area.
“The bridge is an important strategic asset as it enhances the movement of military equipment and troops in a faster time frame,” he said. The Indian Army and BRO have been working towards infrastructure development in the remote and far-flung areas and improving the road connectivity, he said.
“The bridge will reduce traffic congestion in the city and ease out inconvenience caused to the people specially those moving towards Budha Amarnath Shrine in Mandi as it reduces the travelling time considerably.”
The Army Commander appreciated the contribution of the District Administration for their support and cooperation during the construction of the bridge.
Beg to differ: Omar Abdullah
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Thursday lashed out at the Northern Command Chief Lt General Ranbir Singh, on his “great year for security forces” remark.
Taking to Twitter, Abdullah wrote, the compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration.
“I beg to differ, a great year would be one in which no young man would join militancy, no terrorists would be killed & no security personnel would lose their lives in encounters. The compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration,” Abdullah wrote.
Abdullah was reacting to a statement by Gen Singh on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Kalai bridge in Poonch district. Gen Singh said 2018 had been a great year for the security forces as they had managed to kill 250 terrorists.
Heartening to meet Kashmiri students in Bangladesh: Shahid Afridi
Srinagar, Jan 17: Star Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi on Thursday met Kashmiri students in Bangladesh and interacted with them.
Afridi said that it was heartening to see Kashmiri students in Bangladesh who are studying medicine.“Heartening meeting with some Kashmiri students who are in Bangladesh on scholarship, studying Medicine. Keep up the hard work and making your people proud!,” he tweeted.
Afridi in the past has been in controversies over Kashmiri over his support to the Kashmir cause. He has been vocal about letting the people of Kashmir decide their future.