Pardeep Singh Bali
Militants in Kashmir have adopted cowardice trend of attacking army and security forces under the garb of protesters. It is believed that they not only instigate youth to carry out protests, but also engineer these street protests to target security forces.
According to defence sources, at several occasion in the past more than one month during prevailing unrest in Kashmir, the militants have fired upon the security forces, especially Army.
“They come with pistol and hand grenades and get mixed in the crowd to pelt security forces with stones and bricks and on getting an opportunity in the crowd they hurl grenades and target security forces,” said sources.
They added that the militants have adopted cowardice trend, wherein they get involved in the gullible youths and attack security forces, taking advantage of the mob.
“In the recent past, a grenade was hurled on the CRPF picket in Srinagar, in which two men got injured. It shows that these protests are not only engineered to express resentment, but also to carry out nefarious designs of the militants,” sources said, “And when in retaliation the security forces fire, the people term it human right violation.”
Even the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lieutenant General Satish Dua admitted that many of the recent protests in Kashmir were not only engineered, but meant to cover militants opening fire at Indian Army personnel.
The protests in J&K had started following the death of self-styled Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. He was killed by the Indian Army in an encounter in July.
“After July 8, there were spontaneous protests. However, of late we are seeing engineered protests. This time there has been instances where militants fired from behind the stone pelters,” Lt Gen Dua said.
This could be one of the reasons why the Army might have had to fire at the protesters. It could also be confirmation that external forces — possibly Pakistan — could be fuelling these protests in order to destabilise the region.
However, the Army action in J&K has also been called as overly violent by many. In an effort to quell the charges, Lt Gen Dua said: “My orders are very clear: We exercise restraint to the last.”
And that, he said, had cost the Army. “There are so many stitches and injuries to Army soldiers due to stone pelting. We don’t have non-lethal weapons to respond,” Lt Gen Dua said. After being blamed for using pellet guns, the Army is now said to be considering other means, like pepper shots or chili grenades, to subdue protesters.
Meanwhile, defence experts termed it serious concern for the government as well as Indian army and security forces, as these militants are using protesters as human shield to carry out attacks.
“It has been seen that at many times, the militants were spotted among the protesters, but the security forces are constrained not to act, as it will result in killing of civilians. The army maintains maximum restraint in such cases,” Defence Expert-Dr Gautam said and added the people of the area, although, support the militants, but not at the cost of life.
The state government and security forces needs to carry out counseling session for parents, wherein they are being told about the stark reality of these street protests.
“I bet more causalities in Kashmir are due to use of force in retaliation by the security forces, as these protesters are also joined by militants, who have some different line of resentment,” said Dr Gautam.