Watching situation closely in JK: MHA

Srinagar—The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that no harm whatsoever is done to the common masses while carrying out ‘anti-militancy operations’ in the state.

Top officials in the MHA on condition of anonymity told KNS that all the security forces includ­ing the Army, the Central Armed Police Forces and the State police have been asked to avoid civilian killings and carry out anti-mili­tancy operations without any col­lateral damage. “Centre and the State government want to ensure a peaceful summer, as tourism has taken a massive hit in the past two years,” the sources maintained.

However the official main­tained that heads of various se­curity agencies have been asked to “deal sternly” with militants. “We need to deal with the mili­tants strictly but there should be no civilian causalities at the encounter sites. A close synergy between forces is a must for en­suring smooth anti-militancy operations,” the MHA quoting directions said.

Sources however said that the MHA has made it clear that the operation against militants will continue. “MHA is watching the situation very closely and the summer ahead is crucial for the State. Normalcy has to be re­stored in the Valley at all costs as people have suffered huge losses,” sources said.

Sources in the MHA told KNS that the youth have been asked to stay away from encounter sites. “It is for the safety of the people that they should avoid their presence at encounter sites and people are also appealed not to create obstructions in anti-mili­tancy operations,” sources quot­ing MHA said.

The situation in the Kashmir Valley has been fragile since July 8, 2016 when Hizbul commander Burhan Wani and two others were killed in an encounter with security forces.

Meanwhile one of the top of­ficials of the Army told KNS that they have already asked police to keep crowds off from encounter sites during gun battles with mil­itants to avoid civilian casualties as they (Army) were not carrying mob control weapons. “Our job is not to deal with the crowd since we are not carrying non-lethal weapons. It is the police and para-military forces who are carrying weapons to disperse the mob,” an Army officer said, wishing not to be quoted by name.

“Since February 2016, the po­lice had cautioned people many times through repeated adviso­ries, asking them to stay away from the encounter sites. Despite that people have been rushing to encounter sites in a bid to help militants to escape,” one of the police officials told KNS on con­dition of anonymity.

Police sources said the securi­ty agencies have been told to en­sure better coordination during encounters. “Police have been told to ensure that people don’t come close to encounter sites. If protestors come closer to encoun­ter sites then Army may fire at them like what happened in Kul­gam,” a police official said. (KNS)

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