As unrest continues in Kashmir, Army Friday appealed for calm, saying “everyone needs to step back” and sit together to find a way out of the current situation. Asking everyone involved to look at ways to de-escalate the situation rather than provoking it further, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda said while security forces have been directed to exercise maximum restraint, the other side also needs to see that security forces, police stations and bases of security forces are not attacked.
He said the “cycle of conflict and violence” has been going on for more than 40 days now and “no one is going to get away from it unhurt”. “My appeal is for calm. We have to sit down, put our heads together and see if we can find a way out of this situation. So everybody, who is in anyway involved in J&K, needs to introspect and see what we can do to stop it. It is not person or one organisation which can do it (alone),” the top Army commander told reporters here.
“It is a statement of facts because everybody is involved, whether it is security forces, whether it is separatists, governments, students leaders. My appeal is to everyone. We need to find a way forward from this,” he added. He noted that the unrest has affected the children who cannot go to school, the youth, those in the hospital, as also employees, traders and even the policemen and security forces.
The unrest and the cycle of violence began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. Asked if his appeal was addressed to the separatists, Lt Gen Hooda said “everyone needs to step back. Where are the protest calendars coming from?” Separatists have been issuing calendars for protests, with the latest week-long schedule issued only yesterday.
In response to a question, he said a decision has been taken that Army will provide assistance to security forces and police in securing the highways and district roads in order to ensure movement of vehicular traffic during the day.
“This will instill a sense of normalcy. Law and order is dealt with by the police and CRPF. We will provide whatever assistance in terms of reinforcement at police stations where the number of police personnel is low,” he said. Asked if there was a possibility of Army taking over Kashmir, Lt Gen Hooda said “the situation is not there for the Army to take over”.
He said the unrest has affected the counter insurgency operations but the forces will resume these in right earnest. “The civil disturbance has affected the operations, particularly in South Kashmir. A deliberate decision has been taken to go after the terrorists. It will start in right earnest,” he said.