In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, Atul Karwal, inspector-general, CRPF, Srinagar sector said that adequate security arrangements have been put in place and deployments have been made to thwart any militant incidents. He said that 20 companies of the CRPF have been deployed to prevent untoward incidents. Here is the full transcript of the interview:
The security scenario is really dicey. What is your view on this?
Atul Karwal: No, I think the security situation has really started to improve. There are substantial gains that we have made on the ground and the situation is under control. The security situation is far better now than it was on the first two days of the killing of the militant commander, Burhan Wani. On Wednesday there was no major incident of fresh killing which is a real improvement on the scenario that existed on the first days. The gains have been due to the better security measures which have been taken. We are constantly monitoring the situation on the ground and the review is being taken on regular basis.
There was a militant attack on the CRPF convoy in Pampore and now there are these protests. How do you see this ?
AK: We have been able to achieve major success on ground in killing the militants in the past few months. Many of the militants have been killed here after they were engaged by security forces. Also, we have ensured there is an adequate deployment of forces. The deployment is being done in coordination with the police.
There are some areas that are handled by army, some by police and we are making the best security arrangements. We have drawn 20 additional companies of the CRPF that have been deployed across Kashmir. Since the conditions in the South Kashmir districts — from where Burhan Wani largely operated — were much graver than other parts of Kashmir, we have deployed a higher number of personnel in many of the areas in that part of Kashmir. We are making all necessary security arrangements.
But given the protests, do you really see any chances of the situation improving in the next few days?
AK: I think the situation has improved largely. We hope that the situation will normalise in the next few days. We are keeping a close watch on the conditions and given the trouble that is anticipated on Friday due to the large gathering of people for prayers, we will be keeping a plan ready and will also be making adequate security arrangements. In all parts of Kashmir, including those areas that have seen higher incidence of protests, we will chalk out a coordinated security strategy in collaboration with the police.
Why do you think the situation worsened and became nearly unmanageable after the killing of Burhan Wani? Why do you think people join protests in large numbers?
AK: The youth joined the protests in large numbers as it has been a well-planned strategy to vitiate the peace in the Kashmir region. They have come out on the roads to create disturbances as there is a motive behind aggravating the violence here. The appeal of the militant commander was profound as a lot of youths were drawn towards him due to his social networking presence. In Kashmir, there aren't many viable means for the youth to spend time. The outlets for positive energy are minimal, due to which the youth get hooked to social networking sites and are drawn to the appeal of militants.
Was the killing of Burhan Wani a major set back for militants? Or has it strengthened militancy ?
AK: I think the killing was a major success for the security forces. The militant, Burhan Wani, was wanted for a long time by the security forces. He was considered by the militant outfit of Hizbul Mujahideen as an icon and poster boy. The morale of the militants may really be low due to the killing.
Why do you think that the number of militancy incidents have increased over the past few months ?
AK: The militants are desperate to strike and cause damage to the peace-building efforts. Since they want to engage in subversive activities, they think that thwarts our purpose to carry out the development in Kashmir. Our endeavour is that peace should be restored in Kashmir as soon as possible. I think there is also pressure on militants right now to show their presence. Pakistan is creating lot of pressure on the militants to strike at India's security installations, but due to our better security surveillance setup, they have not been able to succeed.
The internet services have been blocked in this part of Kashmir. Is it a correct step and will it help restore peace here?
AK: Our experience is that the blocking of internet services has helped normalise the situation for some time. But internet services are a facility and one can't deprive the people from it for a long time. It can only be a short-term measure and can’t be seen as a long-term one.