Promise safe passage, rehabilitation, say ‘we all feel sad when somebody dies’
Srinagar: Revealing that a surrender policy is in place for militants who are fighting a “lost battle” on the ground, Kashmir Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Munir Ahmad Khan on Monday said that the state government was “keen” to rehabilitate those “who want to join the mainstream”.
Khan said that the government forces were a “disciplined force” which makes them “different from militants”.
“Not necessarily (they surrender) during an encounter, they can come even now and join the mainstream,” Khan said, referring to the arrest of one militant during an encounter in Shopian on Sunday and the detention of an alleged Over Ground Worker (OGW) of the Hizbul in Khudwani area of Kulgam early this morning.
“The two very good result-oriented operations in Shopian and Kulgam is a very clear message to those (other militants) who have been lured to all this, that if they come, we will receive them with open arms,” Khan said at a joint press conference here that he addressed along with General Officer Commanding (GOC) Victor Force, Major-General BS Raju, and Inspector General Operations CRPF, Zulfiqar Hassan.
Khan was referring to the Barbug gunfight in Shopian in which Tariq Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Barbug, and Altaf Ahmad Rather of Awneera were killed in a 17-hour gunfight. A third militant, identified as Adil Hussain Dar, resident of Chitipora in Shopian, was arrested by the government forces.
Soon after dawn this morning, police said that two militants were killed in a gunfight in Khudwani area of Kulgam while one OGW was arrested. The alleged OGW was identified as Arif Sofi.
Police paraded both the detained persons before the media in Srinagar during the presser.
“(The) operations were a bit different,” Khan said of the arrests made during the encounters.
“Adil, a local guy, had joined (militant ranks) three months back. He was firing (but) during the course of the encounter, he somehow lost the balance (and) could not fire anymore,” Khan said. “He could have been killed but we preferred to give him (a) chance to come to the mainstream; we preferred that he should join his parents again.”
Khan claimed, “That is why we opted to catch him alive.”
“The two other militants continued firing because they chose to carry on fighting a lost battle,” Khan added, referring to the killing of Tariq and Altaf in Barbug.
Claiming that the Khudwani encounter was a “clean and crisp operation”, he said, “Arif is an established and chronic OGW… (he was) a lifeline for militants in that area.”
“There were all reasons to knock him off during the encounter, but no, he did not have a weapon so we did not kill him,” Khan said. “Nobody would have questioned and raised a finger if he was killed because he was with militants.”
“(Even) though he was an established OGW, (he had) no weapon, so we did not (kill him),” Khan said, adding, “(This is) the difference between a disciplined force and a militant.”
He said that OGWs “are militants without arms”.
“Militants kill our men when they are off duty, (while they are) playing volleyball with their friends,” Khan said, referring to the killing of cops in recent weeks by militants.
Asserting that police follow a document of surrender policy, Khan said, “Those whom we arrest, or (if anyone) surrenders, if he is not involved in serious/heinous crime, we help him join the mainstream.”
He clarified that the surrender policy was for militants “fighting on the ground in the Valley”.
“It is specific to militants who surrender during the course of an encounter, who are up in arms,” he said. “The government is very keen to rehabilitate them.”
The IG CRPF said that government forces would “assure safe passage and a good life to those who surrender”.
“We want to assure every citizen of Kashmir that if anyone wants to surrender, safe passage is assured, rehabilitation is assured, and when the three agencies combine together with all their resources, we can ensure a good life, a safe life to anyone who wants to surrender, who wants to come to the mainstream,” Hassan said.
Hassan said that the highlight of the Shopian and Kulgam operations was that they were conducted in “volatile areas”, but there was no civilian casualty.
“A new phase I think we all want to enter is where we can conduct operations without getting in confrontation with the civilian population, and that has been proved,” he said.
He added, “The biggest incentive is given to a person who ensures surrender, as it is the biggest achievement.”
“We all feel sad when somebody dies. It doesn’t give happiness to any of us,” he said.
The GOC of south Kashmir-based Victor Force said that it was not the first time that the government forces were asking militants to surrender.
“The first such incident was on 17 March this year. We had the Padmgampora operation where we made Mohammad Shafi talk to his wife. In the case of Abu Dujana, one of our company commanders spoke to him at length, despite Dujana being a foreign militant, but he did not relent. Today we are extremely happy that the man relented and shunned the path of violence. He keeps another day to contribute to society,” Major-General Raju said.
“We are also appealing that if anybody wants to surrender, we will ensure that he gets a safe passage. That is the assurance that we give from all the security agencies and Adil is a living example of a surrender which has taken place,” he said.
The army commander claimed that there was “influx of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)” into south Kashmir and termed it a “cause of concern”, as the Jaish militants “typically get into fidayeen (suicide) mode”.
“But we have methods and measures to ensure this kind of activity is also kept in check,” Raju said.
The army commander informed that at present, 113 militants were active in south Kashmir out of which about 100 were locals.