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Stay away from encounter sites: J&K govt

Move is meant to prevent assembly of mobs who provide cover to militants

Gulf News

New Delhi: Following Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s warning of tough action against stone-pelters in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the state government on Friday issued an advisory asking people to stay away from encounter sites.

District administrations in Srinagar, Budgam and Shopian have advised people not to assemble near places where encounters take place between security forces and militants to avoid injury and loss of lives.

“Whenever an encounter takes place between militants and security forces, people of the locality march to the site and engage the forces with stone-pelting. Prohibitory restrictions have been imposed within a radius of three kilometres from the site of any counter-insurgency operation in the districts. This way, injuries or loss of precious human lives can be avoided,” the advisory read.

However, the restrictions shall not apply to the movement of ambulances, medical and paramedical staff and government employees.

The move is meant to prevent assembly of mobs who provide cover to militants and hamper counter-militancy operations.

Police has also been asked to impose Section 144 against unlawful assemblies in areas where an encounter is on.

While parties such as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress supported General Rawat, the main opposition party National Conference (NC) objected to the “strong words.”

On Wednesday, General Rawat had warned those attacking security forces during anti-militancy operations of tough action.

“The security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are facing higher casualties due to the manner in which the local population is preventing them from conducting the operations and at times even supporting the terrorists to escape,” Rawat had said.

He said that people displaying flags of Pakistan and Daesh in J&K would be dealt with harshly.

Meanwhile, NC leader Abdullah flayed the army chief for his comments against stone pelters.

“It is tragic that New Delhi is still trying to talk to the youth of Kashmir through the defence establishment when the need of the hour is to engage them politically. The youth rushing towards encounter sites are signs of the sense of alienation and disenchantment in Kashmir. The need of the hour is to understand the deep sense of isolation in Kashmir and deal with it with statesmanship and magnanimity,” party spokesperson Junaid Mattu told media.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said Rawat’s words were typical of “the arrogance of Indian government.”

“This showed General Rawat was ignorant of ground realities in Kashmir. Kashmiri youth had not taken to arms or to the streets for fun. They were fighting for a just cause: Kashmir’s freedom,” main separatist outfit Hurriyat Conference said in a statement.