Behibagh (Kashmir): More than 100 militants are active in south Kashmir, which has witnessed a spurt in terror activities recently and operations are underway to neutralise them, a top army officer said on Saturday.
Major-General B.S. Raju, general officer commanding (GoC) of Victor Force which is responsible for security in south Kashmir, also said that the army and Jammu and Kashmir police are trying to dissuade local youth from joining militancy by engaging with their families. He said a full scale cordon-and-search operation, like the one conducted in Shopian recently, will be carried out only in places where the army’s operations are hampered. “We get to listen that the situation is out of control. But it is very much in control," said Raju here after visiting the family of Lt Ummer Fayaz, who was abducted and killed by militants three days back while on leave.
“I am aware of the presence of the militants in the area (south Kashmir) and I must tell you that because of the high vegetation that is there, they are having slight amount of freedom but we are doing operations in a way to restrict their movement and subsequently neutralize them," the GoC said.
Several areas of south Kashmir, including Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian, have been witnessing repeated militant attacks on security forces in the recent months.
There have also been a number of incidents of weapon- snatching and stone-pelting, including by college students. Responding to questions, Maj. Gen. Raju said there are more than 100 militants in south Kashmir and most of them are locals.
“We are also ensuring that new recruitment is prevented and preventive operations are taking place wherein we are engaging with the families of the people and the students who are likely to get onto this track... So, a joint effort is being made by the army, the police and the civil administration to ensure that this scourge of militancy does not spread," the army commander said.
He said while the situation is “calm in general", there is “little bit of agitation" in few educational institutes which leads to some violence. “...The life is going on normally, the schools are functioning normally in 95% of the schools. I visited many government schools. It is only a few schools where there is a little bit of agitation which leads to some violence because of the stone pelting that they are doing and because of the reaction of the police," Maj. Gen. Raju said.
Raju said students are filled with enthusiasm and want to move forward in life in which the army would provide them every support. “There are four to five colleges, 40-50 students who create ruckus. Some virus has entered them which we have to remove. I am sure that the summer will be peaceful," he added. Referring to the massive search operation conducted by the security forces in Shopian district on 4 May, the army commander said such actions would be taken only at places where anti-militancy operations are interfered with.
“The army is here for maintaining peace and we will make efforts so that peace prevails. We hear media reports that the army is conducting massive search operations. I want to say that we will launch such an operation only where we think that the situation is a bit bad or the place where there is interference in army’s operation," he said.
At other places, “specific intelligence-based operations will continue so that common people do not face any hardships", he added. In view of Lt Fayaz’s killing, the army commander was asked whether there was any advisory like the one issued by the state police asking its personnel to refrain from visiting their homes for some time. “There is no such advisory but yes, we have said that anybody (local army man) who is coming into the areas (to visit their homes), he should inform the nearest army camp so that we can provide security to him," he said.