Assembly of people within 3-km radius of encounter sites prohibited
Baramulla: A day after army chief Bipin Rawat warned the people who come to the rescue of militants during gunfights of “harsh action”, authorities in several districts issued advisories asking people to stay away from areas that fall within the radius of three kilometres of the site of a gunfight.
Baramulla district magistrate Nasir Ahmad Naqash said the restrictions have been imposed as an “anticipatory measure to safeguard the lives of people and to avoid any untoward incident during counter-insurgency operations”.
The authorities have invoked Section 144, which prohibits assembly of more than four people, in these advisories that will not, however, apply to movement of ambulances/medical/ paramedical staff and deployed personnel of the government.
District Administrations of Srinagar, Budgam and Shopian also advised people not to move towards or assemble near the places where encounters take place between forces and militants.
The order comes in the wake of growing concern in government quarters that people are hindering counter-insurgency operations by throwing stones at government troops in a bid to help militants escape.
Army chief warns people who come to rescue of militants
Army chief Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday that people who attempt to come to rescue of militants during anti-militancy operations will be treated as ‘Over Ground Workers’ of militants and those displaying Pakistani and IS flags will be dealt as anti-nationals.
General Rawat said government forces were facing higher casualties in Kashmir because of the manner in which the local population is preventing them from conducting operations and “at times even supporting the terrorists to escape”.
General Rawat said those supporting “terror activities” are being given an opportunity but if they continue with their acts then “security forces will come down hard on them.”
A large number of people came out and clashed with government forces during the gunfight in Hajin, Bandipora. On Sunday, police said 20,000 local residents clashed with government forces—more than two dozen received bullet and pellet injuries in the process—and tried to march towards a house where four militants were engaged in a gunfight with forces.
People coming to the rescue of besieged militants has been a routine phenomenon in the valley for the past nearly two years. Several people have lost their lives in such risky enterprise.
Hajin shut for third day
Meanwhile, Hajin town in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district remained shut for the third consecutive day on Thursday to mourn the death of Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Abu Musa, who was killed in a gunfight with government forces on Tuesday. Locals said they were observing the traditional four-day mourning period.
All shops and business establishments remained shut, though traffic was not off the roads in the town.
The Tuesday gunfight in which Abu Musa was killed also claimed the lives of four army soldiers. A civilian, Hilal Ahmad, was hit by a bullet during protests at the encounter site. Locals said that army soldiers fired at Hilal “with the aim to kill him.” In the protests, a youth was hit by pellets in his eye. Both je and Hilal are being treated at Srinagar hospitals.