ARMY CHIEF General Bipin Rawat’s warning that those who create “hurdles” during security operations in the Valley would face “tough action” evoked a mixed response in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday. “It is good to advise people on safety. Even combatants, whether they are militants or security forces, take shelter — militants take shelter in some house and security forces in bunkers. What wisdom is there in running towards an encounter site?” said senior PDP leader and Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar.
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But National Conference spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu criticised the Army chief, saying the need of the hour was to engage the youth politically and threatening them would push them further away. “Youths rushing to encounter sites and incidents of stone-pelting on the forces during encounters are worrying and alarming 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,’’ he said.
“Aggressive statements will fuel the spurt in local militancy in Kashmir. Youths are choosing the path of armed militancy in Kashmir in numbers that we haven’t seen since the early ‘90s. Although the passes along the Line of Control are still shut due to snow, militancy-related incidents have increased due to a spurt in young, educated local boys picking up the gun,’’ he said.
“The statement reflects the mindset towards the people of Kashmir. The Army chief needs to ask why the Army is being used to crush a mass political movement, and why people gather despite the obvious risk to their lives,” said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of the Hurriyat Conference (M). “It is scary that instead of taking this development seriously, they are parroting unfounded theories…,” said Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani.