February 2017 News

J&K Stone-pelters Will Be Treated As Jihadis' Aides: Army Chief

15 February 2017
Times of India

New Delhi: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday warned stone-pelters who try to disrupt anti-terror operations in J&K that they will be treated as 'overground workers of terrorists' and can be fired on. The tough talk came even as PM Narendra Modi unexpectedly joined Gen Rawat to pay homage to three personnel, including Major Satish Dahiya, who laid down their lives in two operations in J&K on Tuesday. Modi had just landed at Palam airport when he learnt the mortal remains of Major Dahiya and soldiers Dharmendra Kumar and Ashutosh Kumar had been brought there. He also laid wreaths. After the solemn ceremony, General Rawat briefed the PM about the encounters at Bandipora and Handwara. He then said, 'Those who obstruct our operations during encounters and aren't supportive will be treated as over-ground workers of terrorists.' He went on to state that people waving IS and Pakistan flags will be treated as anti-nationals. The Army chief also said that soldiers would not hesitate to fire on stone-pelting youths if they tried to thwart anti-terror operations. There has been an increasing trend of flash mobs trying to prevent security forces from cornering terrorists during counterinsurgency operations in J&K over the last couple of years. In some instances, this has even helped militants escape the security dragnet, while leading to higher casualties among the forces. The unrest that followed the death of Hizbul leader Burhan Wani also saw forces being cornered by mobs hurling stones in towns. 'There is a well-crafted policy, fuelled from across the border, to put pressure on our security forces by getting stone-pelting civilians to give cover to terrorists during encounters. We are reviewing our standard operating procedures, including the use of lethal and non-lethal force, while also targeting organisers of such mobs. Directions have also been issued to treat persons who help terrorists as accomplices,' said a senior officer.