Accusing the Pakistan Army of being involved “100 per cent” in the attack by the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama last week, General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lieutenant General K J S Dhillon said Tuesday that Indian forces responded by eliminating the JeM’s Valley leadership in “less than 100 hours”.
Addressing a joint press conference with IG Kashmir S P Pani and IG CRPF Zulfiqar Hasan, Lt Gen Dhillon also issued an appeal to “the mothers” of Kashmiri youth to “please request their sons who have joined terrorism to surrender and get back to the mainstream”.
“Anyone who has picked up a gun in Kashmir will be eliminated, unless he surrenders. This is a message to all the mothers,” Lt Gen Dhillon said.
The comments came a day after the encounter in Pulwama in which a joint security team killed two Pakistani militants and a local militant in a gunbattle. Four Army men and a police constable also lost their lives in the encounter that took place four days after a Kashmiri youth rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into a CRPF convoy, killing 40 personnel.
Lt Gen Dhillon said forces were tracking the “top Jaish-e-Mohammad leadership” after the suicide attack and in “less than 100 hours we eliminated the JeM leadership in the Valley which was being handled by JeM from Pakistan”.
Describing JeM as “a child” of the Pakistan Army, Lt Gen Dhillon said one of the militants killed in the Pulwama encounter — identified as Kamran — was the “chief operations commander” of JeM in Kashmir. “He was Pakistani and was being handled by JeM in Pakistan in conjunction with the ISI and Pakistan Army,” he said.
Lt Gen Dhillon said Kamran was responsible for carrying out the attack on the convoy. “Pakistan Army’s involvement here is 100 per cent and there is no doubt about it,” he said.
Pointing out that car bombs had returned to Kashmir after a long time, Lt Gen Dhillon said: “However, similar incidents have happened in Syria and Afghanistan and Pakistan earlier and since this modus operandi now has been started by terrorists, we are alert to it and we are keeping all options open to deal with this kind of modus operandi.”
Attributing the success of the operation against the militants in Pulwama to “complete synergy” among security forces, Lt Gen Dhillon said: “The Army suffered losses in Monday’s operation because we did not want civilian casualties to happen. Other than the one civilian casualty that happened due to terrorists’ fire in the initial stages itself, not a single civilian has been killed or injured in this encounter which lasted more than 17 hours and that is the risk we took.”
IGP Pani said 58 JeM militants were killed in operations last year and that out of the 31 militants killed this year, 12 are from the same group.
Noting that there is a significant dip in militancy recruitment, IGP Pani said that “families and the community” have a very important role to play in “bringing boys back” from the fold of militancy.