More highway relaxations expected after LS polls: DGP
General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, Lt Gen K J S Dhillon Wednesday said there would be no let-up in the anti-militancy operations in Kashmir.
“The anti-militancy operations in the hinterland and along the Line of Control will continue with full vigour,” Dhillon said addressing a joint news conference with Director General of Police (DGP), Dilbagh Singh; Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Swayam Prakash Pani and I G CRPF, Zulfikar Hassan.
“We won’t let militancy rise up to the earlier levels,” the GOC said.
He said 69 militants were killed in anti-militancy operations while 12 had been arrested this year so far.
Post Pulwama Fidayeen attack, in which 40 paramilitary CRPF men were killed, he said 41 militants were killed and of them 25 belonged to Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) outfit that claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Of the 25 JeM militants killed, 13 were foreigners. Basically, we have targeted the JeM leadership. The situation now is that there is no one coming forward to take the leadership of JeM in the Valley,” Dhillon said.
He said, “In spite of Pakistani’s efforts, the forces will continue to suppress the JeM.
Dillon said some surrenders had happened during the last few months and requested local gun-yielding youth to lay down arms.
“We assure complete security and safety to the people who are going to surrender,” he said.
The GOC 15 Corps also appealed youth not to come near gunfight sites.
“During the gunfight, crossfire can happen and after the gunfight any leftover ammunition can be dangerous to life and property,” he said.
About the restriction on civilian traffic on the highway from Baramulla to Udhampur, the senior Army officer said the measure was temporary and some restrictions had already been revoked.
About the Srinagar-Udhampur stretch, DGP Dilbagh Singh said after the remaining two phases of Lok Sabha polls in south Kashmir are over, more such relaxations were expected.
On the probable halt in anti-militancy operations during elections, Singh said it was coincidental that the operations in certain areas were at a little lesser pace now.
“Our main focus is conducting smooth and peaceful polls, which are being ensured in Kashmir and Jammu region but that doesn’t mean the operations in these area have seized,” he said. “The operations are on but the engagements have lessened.”
The State Police chief said the recruitment of local youth in militancy was down and it continued to be low “which is a healthy sign”.
“Some youth were motivated to join militancy but the forces intervened to bring them back from the path of militancy,” he said.
Singh said incidents of stone pelting and law and order problems also came down drastically.
“We admire and appreciate people, especially youth who desisted from creating law and order problems,” he said.
However, Singh admitted that the forces faced some law and order situation during gunfights but maintained that it had now come down.
About the arrest of separatist activists before elections, the DGP said it was part of overall security and law and order management of the State.
“We had considerable evidence against these people committing trouble in Kashmir and elsewhere. Their arrests helped us in improving the situation,” he said.
About the low voter turnout in the first phase of Anantnag parliamentary polls, Singh said 13.69 percent voter turnout was “good” in view of the situation in south Kashmir.
“Vote is one’s own right and no one can be forced to vote,” he said.
Singh said the law and order situation had been generally under control.
“In 2017, there was much poll-related violence. Violence-less polls were possible by well planning of the officers and execution in appropriate manner in all areas that went to polls,” he said. “The two phases of LS polls are yet to be conducted in south Kashmir and we hope they too pass off peacefully.”
On the Intelligence inputs about the militant attacks, the DGP said every input had to be taken seriously.
IGP Kashmir S P Pani while referring to reports of 11 youth going missing in south Kashmir during the last month said, “In Pulwama and Kulgam, youth were not actually missing and had returned home. They were missing for different reasons. There are some people who have joined but the number is very less compared to the last couple of weeks.”