Working on two-pronged strategy in Kashmir: To prevent local militant recruitment, to curb OGW, Social media network used for radicalization, says GoC 15 Corps 

Srinagar: General officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar based 15 Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey said that the army is working on a two-pronged strategy in Kashmir—to prevent the local militant recruitment and to squeeze the OGW and social media network used for radicalization of youth. He, however, said that anyone who picks up arms will be dealt strictly—local militants will be offered surrender if they refuse, they will be killed.

GoC 15 corps was addressing his maiden presser at Police Control Room (PCR) Srinagar along IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar and GoC Victor Force Rashim Bali about two encounters—Shopian and Tral, Pulwama in which seven militants including the Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH) chief were killed.

As per news agency—Kashmir  News Observer (KNO), GoC 15 Corps said that the army is working on a two-pronged strategy which entails preventing the local militant recruitment and to block the OGW and social media network which is used for radicalization of youth in the Valley.

“This is my first media interaction and I can feel that there is a new change and new energy. One and all want J&K to be a peaceful region. While rest of Kashmir is peaceful, South Kashmir and some parts of Central Kashmir are witnessing cycle of violence,”GoC Pandey said. “Our efforts are on to address the situation. We need cooperation from the general public. Our youth are being radicalized and people must help us in stopping the trend.”

He asserted that some parents whose youth have joined militancy have approached army and requested it to “get their children back and rehabilitate them even if they need to be lodged in jails.”

Asked whether local militancy graph was high this year, the GoC said that the local militant recruitment is very less this year so far compared to previous years.

Briefing the media about two separate gunfights, IGP Kashmir said that in two encounter—one at Jan Mohalla, Shopian and another at Nowbugh, Tral in Pulwama district, seven militants including AGH chief Imtiyaz Shah, who was active since April 2019, was killed.

“In Shopian operation we had to be very patient. We followed all SoPs. We allowed the Moulvi of the local masjid in which militants were hiding, to persuade militants to surrender twice in the night. We also brought brother of a militant. His request for surrender was also turned down. We brought parents of militants in the morning, but militants refused to surrender,” the IGP said, adding that in Shopian gunfight no IED, no explosive and grenades were used. “We used tear smoke shells. In the ensuing gunfight, five militants were killed—two from Hizbul Muajhideen, one from LeT and two from AGH. All were categorized militants.”

He said that two militants including the AGH chief Imtiyaz Shah had fled from the Shopian encounter site during the initial cordon after throwing grenades. “We developed the lead and found that duo had fled to Nowbugh area of Tral. Today, early morning a cordon was launched in an open area where Imtiyaz along with his aide were killed,” he said. From of the seven slain militants, the IGP said seven AK-riffles and two pistols were recovered. He said that in Shopian operation sanctity of the masjid was maintained and the place of worship suffered very minimum damage.

The IGP identified the slain militants of Shopian as Muzamil Tantry who had joined militancy in August 2019, Adil Lone who picked up arms in July 2019, Younish Ahmed Khanday, who joined militancy in November last year and  Basit Bhat who picked up gun in June last year. He said the fifth militant has not been identified yet. Similarly, the IGP said one of the slain militants of Tral gunfight was identified as Imtiyaz Shah, the chief of AGH, who was active since April 2019, and was tasked to target Amarnath Yatra in Tral area. The identity of Imtiyaz’s aide is being ascertained.

Speaking on the occasion, GoC Victor Force Rashim Bali said that in Shopian operation sanctity of the masjid was maintained and only automatic fire and small grenades were used to kill militants hiding inside. “Every effort to make the militants surrender failed,” he said, adding that the army men on ground are being strictly directed to respect the local sentiment and to ensure minimum collateral damage during anti-militancy operations.

To a query whether any civilian was injured in Shopian encounter, the IGP said: “During the initial exchange some miscreants tried to disrupt the operations after which police used minimum force to disperse them. Three civilians sustained injuries and all are stable.”

Replying to a query how many soldiers sustained injuries in Shopian operation, GoC 15 Corps said that four soldiers including an officer were injured during the operation and all are stable. On whether militants are planning to target Amarnath Yatra, the GoC said that it won’t be for the first time that militants may be planning to target the pilgrimage. “Militants are always looking for soft targets. We will ensure all measures are taken to see a peaceful pilgrimage of Amarnath this year,” the GoC said—(KNO)

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