Army opens front to diffuse tension in the valley

RSTV Bureau
FILE: Srinagar: Security men guard as people shout slogans during a protest, August 3, 2016. Photo - PTI

FILE: Srinagar: Security men guard as people shout slogans during a protest, August 3, 2016.
Photo – PTI

Amid an outrage in Kashmir, the Army on Friday said the actions by its soldiers like the one in which a lecturer was killed will not be tolerated, even as it appealed for calm. Shabir Ahmad Monga, a lecturer, was killed and 18 others sustained injuries when they were thrashed by army personnel on Wednesday night after nocturnal raids to arrest stone pelters in Khrew area of Pulwama district.

“These raids were not sanctioned in the first place. It is unjustified. Nobody can support it and it will not be tolerated,” Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda told the press in Srinagar.

Asked about the circumstances that led to the incident, the army commander said according to information he has, the troops came under stone pelting by the mobs.

“The instructions are there to exercise maximum restraint but these are difficult times. The security forces are facing tough times and sometimes things get out of hand,” he added.

At the same time, the Army appealed for calm, stressing that “everyone needs to step back” and sit together to find a way out of the current situation.

Asking everyone to look at ways to de-escalate the situation rather than provoking it further, Lt Gen DS Hooda said while security forces have been directed to exercise maximum restraint, the other side also needs to see that security forces, police stations and bases of security forces are not attacked.

“My appeal is for calm. We have to sit down, put our heads together and see if we can find a way out of this situation. So everybody, who is in anyway involved in J&K, needs to introspect and see what we can do to stop it. It is not person or one organisation which can do it (alone),” Hooda said.

File Photo of most wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani (R), who was killed during an encounter at Kokarnag area of Anantnag District of South Kashmir on Friday.

File Photo of most wanted Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani (R), who was killed during an encounter at Kokarnag area of Anantnag District of South Kashmir on Friday.

“It is a statement of facts because everybody is involved, whether it is security forces, whether it is separatists, governments, student leaders. My appeal is to everyone. We need to find a way forward from this,” he stressed in his appeal.

Asked if his appeal was addressed to the separatists, Lt Gen Hooda said “everyone needs to step back. Where are the protest calendars coming from?” referring to the calendars for protests issued by the Seperatists.

To a question if there was a possibility of Army taking over Kashmir, the Northern Army Commander said “the situation is not there for the Army to take over”.

More than 65 people have been killed and thousands are left injured in the clashes between the security forces and local protesters following the encounter killing of Hizbul commander and militant poster-boy Burhan Wani on July 8. The valley had been reeling under curfew since then.

On the encounter that led to killing of Burhan Wani, Lt Gen Hooda said “it was not a staged encounter. It did not finish in two and half minutes. Information about presence of Burhan Wani (inside the house where he was killed) was not available (before hand).”

(With inputs from the PTI)