February 2017 News

Army Calls Off Anti-militancy Operation In Pulwama Due To Stone Pelting

18 February 2017
Mufti Islah

Srinagar: In the backdrop of Army chief Bipin Rawat's warning to people to stay away from encounter sites, a large number of youth on Saturday pelted stones at security forces who had launched an anti-militancy operations in South Kashmir. A police official from Pulwama admitted that a huge mob raised slogans and pelted stones at security forces who had begun an anti-militancy operation at Warwun-Newa village in Pulwama. 'Yes, we were conducting an operation but had to withdraw when an irate mob of nearly hundred people threw stones. We fired smoke shells to scare the people,' the officer said, refusing to elaborate further. Rajesh Kalia, Srinagar based defence spokesman said, 'Based on information, a joint operation was launched. Search was carried out and the operation was called off. However, while the security personnel were de-inducting, a mob resorted to stone pelting which was dispersed by the Jammu and Kashmir police.' The Army statement was brief and clearly avoided any details about the nature of operation or if there was any specific information about militants or any hideout. In a way, the joint forces team adhered to no different drill or SOP - standard operating procedure - that they always have been doing. While the Army and SOG - crack team of police - often focus on the trapped militants throwing an immediate ring around them, the police and paramilitary deal with the mob on the outside of this 'core' ring. Since 2015, there have been numerous instances when people have come rushing down to encounter sites distracting army SOG teams and helping militants to flee in some cases but it is the police and paramilitary and not army which takes them on. Police sources said a contingent each from police, army and paramilitary cordoned off the village this morning after information about militant being spotted came in. As they were moving in, villagers from Warwun and its adjoining localities gathered around the encounter site and tried hampering the operation against the hiding militants . The forces lobbed tear smoke shells to disperse the mob but when the situation turned ugly, they terminated the operation, apparently to avoid a serious confrontation with people. Saturday's incident comes in the wake of the recent statement by Army chief General Bipin Rawat warning people who come to the rescue of militants during gunfights of 'tough action'. General Rawat had told media on Wednesday that people who will try to hamper operations against militants will be treated as 'Over Ground Workers' and those displaying Pakistani and IS flags will be dealt as 'anti-nationals'. He even cited the 'distraction' as a prime cause of soldiers taking casualties in recent encounters. A day after army chief's remarks, the Mehbooba government renewed advisories asking people to back off three kilometres from encounter scenes. Police said, henceforth, it would invoke Section 144, to discourage people from assembling near live encounters.