Kashmir: Despite Army chief Bipin Rawat's warning, people attack security forces to give passage to militants

Despite stern warning by Army chief Bipin Rawat, that those trying to disrupt anti-militancy operations in Kashmir will be treated as "overground workers of terrorists" and can be fired on, hundreds of people attacked the forces with stones on Saturday afternoon in Urivan village of south Kashmir in Pulwama district, when they were about to launch search and cordon operation in the area.

“Hundreds of people attacked the forces in Urivan, when they were trying to cordon the area and carrying out search operations. They threw, whatever, they could find on the road towards the forces,” Majid Ahmad Sofi, a resident of Zadoora village few hundred meters from Urivan, told Firstpost, on phone.

“People from at least five villages gathered within minutes and fought pitched battle with forces, many of them were injured, forcing the army and police to call off the operation,” he added.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

A joint team of army’s 55 Rashtriya Rifles and Kashmir Police, according to sources, had launched an operation after receiving a tip-off about the presence of militants in the Newa area of Pulwama.

But as soon as the security forces started cordoning the area, hundreds of people gathered and threw stones at them. The security forces faced intense resistance from the stone pelters and had to call off the operation.

It is pertinent to mention here that after the Army chief’s warning the district administrations in Srinagar, Budgam and Shopian has issued an advisory asking people not to move towards or assemble near places where gun fight takes place between security forces and militants to avoid injury and loss of lives.

"Prohibitory restrictions have been imposed within a radius of 3 km from the site of any counter-insurgency operation in the districts,” an advisory issued by the Jammu and Kashmir government, said. The Kashmir Police have also been asked to impose Section 144 against unlawful assemblies in areas where an encounter is on.

But despite that, Saturday’s incident in Newa area had proved that it is going to be an uphill task for the security forces to keep at bay the protesters, who flock the encounter sites to give safe passage to the militants.

Police officials in the district of Pulwama said it was almost impossible to control the crowd which had gathered and blocked the roads leading to the Urivan village. The forces had cordoned off at least four villages in the adjoining village, when people resorted to massive stone-pelting.

“There were children, women and men, who came on roads, as soon as the forces cordoned off the area, and fought with them. The police tried shelling tear-smoke at them but people fought back for hours and forced them to flee from the site,” Idrees Ahmad, a resident of Kakapora village, said.

Police, sources said, did retaliate and fired tear smoke shells but were unable to control the crowd. Before the siege was called off many people were injured in the stone pelting.

The Army chief had warned stone pelters not to attack the forces with stones after three soldiers faced heavy stone-pelting in Bandipore district in north Kashmir, when they were about to launch an operation against militants holed up there. The militants fired at the forces and threw hand grandees towards the forces leaving three jawans dead and some others, including a commanding officer of CRPF, injured.

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Updated Date: Feb 18, 2017 21:15:46 IST

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