Srinagar: The Indian Army chief on Friday hinted at launching a massive crackdown in south Kashmir where public protests since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani have paralysed the government’s writ. Sources said that the operation, which will include search operations and raids, would be launched in “real earnest”.
The decision to actively employ soldiers was taken during army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag’s visit to Kashmir on Friday. He flew to forward areas and interacted with field officers in south and north Kashmir for spot-on assessment of the prevailing situation.
Northern Army Commander Gen DS Hooda and Srinagar-based XV Corps Commander Lt Gen Satish Kumar Dua accompanied the army chief to the formations at Line of Control (LoC) and to units in north and south Kashmir.
“The chief reviewed the security situation and collaborative measures of security forces towards ensuring peace and calm in the region,” a defence spokesman said.
The visit occurred amid reports that New Delhi has decided to use effective force to quell public protests in Kashmir after the failure of the all-party delegation’s attempts to talk to the pro-freedom leadership.
Gen Suhag received a detailed briefing from XV Corps Commander who looks after operational responsibilities across the Kashmir Valley region including the LoC and the hinterland. Gen Dua, defence sources said, was briefed on the numerous initiatives undertaken by the army across the Valley to bring about peace.
Gen Dalbir reinforced the need to synergise efforts with all the other stakeholders and assured all support for bringing in normalcy, particularly in south Kashmir. Significantly, the army chief also interacted with police chief K Rajendra. He later called upon Governor NN Vohra, who has been reactivated by New Delhi to oversee the situation in Kashmir, and briefed him on the prevailing situation and the initiatives taken by the army to manage the situation.
The defence spokesman said that the army chief while reinforcing the need to maintain high vigil, urged the troops to sensitise people, especially the youth, to eschew violence. He also appreciated the various humanitarian initiatives by the troops to bring succour to the affected locals due to the ongoing unrest and exhorted them to sustain this positive engagement with the people.
Sources said the army is likely to begin operations in south Kashmir in “real earnest”. The operation would include area domination and crackdown on leaders of the ongoing anti-India uprising. The army had temporarily halted counterinsurgency operations in south Kashmir after the killing of Burhan Wani but announced resumption of the operations last month. However, the army has not yielded any success on the counterinsurgency front.
The army drew a lot of flak when its troops raided Shar-e-Shaali village in Khrew area. During the ruthless nocturnal raid, a college lecturer was beaten to death and scores of other villagers were brutally tortured. The incident evoked widespread condemnation. The Northern Commander has announced a probe into the incident.