Over two dozen militant commanders killed so far this year: J&K police chief

Srinagar: Security forces have killed over two dozen militant commanders so far this year, which has broken the leadership structure of their outfits to a great extent, Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dilbag Singh said on Thursday.

“A total of 26 militant commanders — who were either number one or number two — have been eliminated in the last seven-and-a-half months, after which their leadership structure has been broken to a great extent. This is a huge success for the security forces and has given respite to people,” the DGP told reporters at a press conference in the Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.

Singh, however, said militancy does not end by killing militants and underlined the importance of stopping youngsters from picking up guns.

“Our endeavour is not just to kill militants. Militancy does not end by killing militants. Our endeavour is also to stop youngsters from becoming militants and for that, we have to have clean operations and deal with law and order in a proper way,” he said.

The top cop of the Union Territory congratulated the people of the valley as there was no casualty in the maintenance of law and order in 2019 and so far in 2020. He said the forces do not want any civilian casualties.

“Also, there was no casualty near the encounter sites in 2019 and 2020. For carrying out such clean operations, we have to work very hard. We had to face situations when militants escaped during operations. But the first endeavour is to avoid civilian casualties. If a militant escapes, let him. Dozens of our operations have failed this way and we accepted that thinking that we will see them the next time. But we want to avoid civilian casualties.

“Similarly, and this has happened in Srinagar as well, when we get to know that there is a local militant inside a cordon, we halt the operation, call his family and ask him to surrender — not before us, but before his family. We assure him that he will face no consequences, just a little legal action and there will be no threat to him afterwards and I think, this endeavour of ours will succeed in the future,” Singh said.

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On a question about the Centre’s claim that militancy would come to an end in the valley after the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution, he said incidents of infiltration as well as recruitment of youngtsers into militant ranks have come down.

“Infiltration has come down. Now it is not even 50 per cent of what it used to be. Border management is so good and the forces have not allowed them to cross over. Recruitment has also come down to such levels that were not witnessed before. I think people, including youngsters, are heeding to our appeal and I want them to listen to this again and give up this track,” the DGP said.

However, he pointed out that the terrain of the border is such that “we cannot stop everything from crossing over”.

“Had that been the case, there would have been no infiltration and no militancy,” Singh said.

He said the security forces have succeeded in bringing 16 boys back from militant ranks so far this year.

“In 2020, 16 boys have been brought back and they have joined their families. Our attempt is to tell other boys also to shun this path and join their families. Pakistan is using social media and other agencies to create such an atmosphere and incite the youngsters,” the DGP said.

At the press conference, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said there are 195 to 198 active militants in the valley.

“We cannot say it (militancy) has been wiped out as some new ones have joined,” he said in response to a question on whether militancy has been wiped out in the valley.

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Replying to another query on allegations of harassment of the families of militants, Kumar said the police do not harass the family of any militant.

“We respect them and do not harass them. However, we have arrested the sister of a militant and the mother of another (in south Kashmir). They have done something which is illegal and even the court has declined to grant them bail. This notion that the Jammu and Kashmir Police harasses militant families is totally wrong,” he said.

Singh said it is the policy of the Jammu and Kashmir Police not to harass people.

“They are our people and their security and dignity are our responsibility. We take serious action on any report of harassment. The intention of all forces is not to harass anyone,” he said.

Asked whether there was any chance of restoration of high-speed (4G) internet services in other districts of the Union Territory after it was restored in Ganderbal and Udhampur districts, the DGP said the issue is under active consideration of the government.

Asked about the Centre’s decision to withdraw 100 companies of paramilitary forces from the valley, he said the calibration of the forces’ levels happens from time to time.

“We had done a huge deployment here on the basis of requirements…. I am thankful to the MHA for supporting us always and I thank those troops as well. Now they are needed at some other place or at their original areas,” the DGP said.

On the investigation into an alleged fake encounter in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, in which the Army had claimed that three militants were killed, Singh said the probe will be fair.

“Our parallel inquiry is on and I can assure you that the investigations will be fair,” he said.

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