Srinagar: General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lieutenant General BS Raju has said that militants opening fire on government forces in populated areas “are OK with some civilian casualties because they know it catches attention”.
“And for terrorists, it’s a collateral damage, ” Raju told NDTV in an interview regarding the recent civilian casualties during encounters between militants and forces including a minor, who was killed in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara and a Srinagar elderly, who was killed in north Kashmir’s Sopore.
The army also shared the excerpt of the interview on twitter with the caption:
“Terrorists striking in populated areas seek civil casualties because that gets attention. Civilian deaths provide fodder to propaganda machines. Security forces show restraint. Even to the militants, we always offer the choice to surrender”.
In the interview, Raju said that the forces did not want to kill militants and that an opportunity to surrender was given to every militant.
He said that the killings of the 6-year-old boy at Bijbehara and the 65-year-old man at Sopore were unfortunate.
The army officer said the picture (showing grandchild of the slain man on the chest of his dead grandfather) had “elicited emotions”.
Raju said that the army has had a “string of successful anti-militancy operations in Kashmir”.
“The only way for a militant to get back is to strike and to engage us in populated areas. That’s what happened in Bijbehara and Sopore as both towns are busy places. In both the incidents, we had CRPF casualties and multiple injuries to (CRPF men) also,” the army officer said.
He said that in Sopore militants had “used a mosque which is a new phenomenon”.
The army officer said they had recovered 60 rounds of empty cases from the mosque adding the initial rounds were “used to target CRPF men and the rest of the 50 were obviously fired with an aim to escape”.
“Those 50 rounds caused civilian causality and that’s what exactly happened,” the army officer said.
“These incidents are exploited by the environment and they provide a solid tool for the propaganda, ” Raju further said.
He said that “every loss of life is unfortunate. We don’t even want to kill militants, we give them an opportunity to surrender”. (KNO)