Srinagar, Jan 14: Political initiative must go “hand-in-hand” with military operations in Jammu and Kashmir to bring peace, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on January 14, and favoured ramping up military offensive to pile up heat on Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism in the State.
Gen. Rawat said the armed forces operating in the State cannot be “status quoist” and must evolve new strategies and tactics to deal with the situation, which he feels is “marginally” better since he took over a year ago.
In an interview to PTI, the Army chief asserted that there was room for ramping up heat on Pakistan to cut flow of cross border militant activities, clearly indicating that the Army will continue its policy of hot pursuit in dealing with militancy.
“The political initiative and all the other initiatives must go simultaneously hand-in-hand and only if all of us function in synergy, we can bring lasting peace in Kashmir. It has to be a politico-military approach that we have to adopt,” the Army chief said. In October, the government had appointed former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as its special representative for a “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in J&K.
“When the government appointed an interlocutor, it is with that purpose. He is the government’s representative to reach out to the people of Kashmir and see what their grievances are so that those can then be addressed at a political level,” the Army chief said.
Asked whether there is room for ramping up pressure on Pakistan to force it to stop sending militants to the State, he said, “Yes, you cannot be status quoist. You have to continuously think and keep moving forward. You have to keep changing your doctrines and concept and the manner in which you operate in such areas.”
Gen. Rawat said the Army will have to evolve new strategies and new tactics to deal with the situation. At the same time, he said an overall approach was required to deal with the Kashmir issue.
Since beginning of 2017, the Army pursued an aggressive anti-militancy policy in Jammu and Kashmir and, at the same time, forcefully responded to all ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control with a tit-for-tat approach.
“Military is only part of the mechanism to resolve the Kashmir issue. Our charter is to ensure that the terrorists who are creating violence in the state are taken to task and those who have been radicalised and are increasingly moving towards militancy are prevented from doing so,” he said.
Gen. Rawat said some youths “continue to be radicalised” and are joining militancy. The Army has been trying to maintain pressure on militant groups, he said.
The Army’s aim is to ensure that it continues to maintain the pressure on the militants and those fomenting trouble there, Gen. Rawat said. “But at the same time, we have to also reach out to the people,” he said. Asked whether the situation in Kashmir has improved since he has taken over as the Army chief a year ago, Gen. Rawat said, “I am only seeing a marginal change in situation for the better.
“I do not think it is time to become over confident and start assuming that the situation has been brought under control because infiltration from across the borders will continue.”
The LoC has remained volatile in 2017. According to official figures, 860 incidents of skirmishes were reported in 2017 as against 221 the year before.
Zakir Musa’s successor killed, Ansar Gazwatul Hind wiped out: DGP
Srinagar, Oct 23: Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Wednesday claimed that they have wiped out militant outfit Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH) from Jammu and Kashmir after security forces killed its last three surviving militants including the successor of slain Zakir Musa, in an encounter at Rajpora in Pulwama district on Tuesday evening.
“Three militants were killed in Rajpora. They were later identified as Hamid Lone alias Hamid Lelhari of Lelhari village Kakpora, Naveed Ahmad Tak of Batpora and Junaid Rashid of Nowdal Tral. All the three were associated with Ansar Gazwatul Hind, which now has been wiped out from the valley,” Singh told reporters.
The DGP said the trio was “involved in many attacks on forces and killing of civilians in Pulwama district.”
“After killing of Zakir Musa, Lelhari took command of the AGH. He had joined the militant group in 2016 and since then he was involved in many militant activities. Lelhari had motivated these two slain militants to join his group. He was a part of the group, which attacked forces in Kakapora. Lelhari along with another militant Yasir had killed two Gujjars recently in the area,” he said.
DGP noted that Junaid Rashid was the second militant of his family to have been killed by the forces. “We feel very sad for that. These work at the behest of Pakistan based agencies,” he said.
Singh said the slain militants were working in coordination with Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT). “Jaish is currently trying to coordinate with every militant group operating in the valley. Both JeM and LeT decide the targets and work in coordination with other groups,” he said.
DGP used the occasion to appeal the youth to shun militancy saying “taking to weapons is like inviting death.”
“Weapon creates an environment of death. We wish such activities are stopped. Youth should shun militancy to restore peace in the valley,” Singh said.
The DGP claimed the situation in the valley has improved after August 5 and youth joining militancy has shown a downward trend during the period.
“People were of the notion that militancy will increase after August 5. But the momentum of youth joining militant ranks has come down drastically during the period. People have now set up their stall and kiosks on roads everywhere to do their routine business,” he said.
Singh said that only five to six youth have gone missing from their homes after August 5. “We can’t be sure that they have joined any militant group. There can be other reasons behind their decision to leave home,” he said.
Asked whether there was any possibility of Pulwama like attack, he said: “Forces are alert on ground to respond to these threats.”
“It is difficult to anticipate anything since there have been many threats by Pakistan including their Prime Minister. Pulwama like incidents can happen anywhere. But if we face such situation, we are alert on ground to take care of these threats,” Singh said.
Asked about reports of detentions in south Kashmir, Singh said: “Propaganda is created by certain media houses without verifying the news”
“This is clearly a misinformation and propaganda. We always verify about the possible OGW network or either associates of militants before picking any person. Later verification follows and then they are being freed after proper counselling,” he said.
DGP said out of five people arrested, four are later released. “We are not fond of keeping people in custody unnecessarily. 17000 cases are being registered ever year by the police and it doesn’t mean we pick and torture them. In case of juveniles, the age is being verified and then legal action follows. We follow Juvenile Justice Act,” he said
On the reports of withdrawing post-paid phone services again in the valley, Singh said they take every decision after considering the ground situation.
“Phones were blocked after assessing of situation. Same procedure was followed when the service was resumed,” he said.
The DGP said that proper security arrangements will be put in place for conducting exams in the valley. “Exams are in the interest of children and their parents. Whenever need arises we are ready to help them by ensuring proper security. We appeal children not to spoil their career,” he said.
Singh said police has put in place security arrangement for Block Development Council election on Thursday. “We have directed SPs to make every security arrangement in their respective zones,” he said.
DGP noted that they have reviewed the security “to ensure protection of the people particularly those associated with apple trade.”
“There were some unfortunate incidents when militants targeted two truckers, a labourer and apple trader. People took it serious and condemned the act. They (militants) can interfere to the extent of killing people who do their routine work, but we have now reviewed the security. We have now intensified our operation against militants,” he said.
Sizable infiltration post Aug 5:DGP
Srinagar, Oct 23: Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Wednesday admitted that sizable infiltration has taken place after August 5 when Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided state into two union territories.
“Some infiltration by militants has taken place. However many of their attempts to sneak in have been foiled. Now we see ceasefire violation in Rajouri, Poonch, Samba, Hiranagar, Karnah, Uri, Machil, Gurez and Keran every day. Ceasefire violation is aimed at pushing militants into Kashmir,” Singh said.
The DGP said the exact number of militants who have sneaked in can’t be known, but the infiltration has been a sizable one.
“We feel the number is sizable. But I don’t see the number that big to worry us. Process is on to bring their number down,” he said.
Singh said lesser number of militants was worrying Pakistan and that is why “they are trying to push in more infiltrators”.
Dumping of construction waste: Kashmir stares at environmental disaster
Srinagar, Oct 23: An environmental disaster is unfolding in Kashmir as more than 6650 metric tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) waste is brazenly dumped along the river banks and vacant lands annually.
Official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that total C&D waste generated in Kashmir for 2018-2019 was 6650.28 metric tonnes.
The construction and demolition waste management rules 2016 apply to every waste resulting from construction, re-modeling, repair and demolition of any civil structure of individual or organization or authority which generates construction and demolition waste such as building materials, debris and rubble.
However, in absence of any collection and disposal of C&D waste, the waste is being dumped on unused vacant lands, along river banks. “The waste is disposed of by owners themselves on completion of construction work as per municipal authorities and only unclaimed waste is transported by local bodies. “There is no progress as far as identification of sites is concerned for processing of C&D waste,” the document reads.
The urban local bodies (ULBs) are responsible for the management of construction and demolition waste.
“As per the rules, the ULBs should chalk out stages, methodology and equipment, material involved in the overall activity and final clean up after completion of the C&D waste,” said an official at the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB).
Environmentalist Dr Arshid said dumping the waste along the river banks can prove detrimental to fragile environment. “The waste carries increased amount of dust load which can deteriorate the water quality. It erodes over a period of time and can increase turbidity,” he said
Director State Pollution Control Board, Rafi Ahmed: “As per rules, the municipal corporations are bound to identify a separate landfill site for the proper disposing off of C&D waste. They are currently in process of identifying some sites for the waste.”