People creating hurdles during anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir will be considered anti-nationals and will face “harsh” actions, army chief Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday, acknowledging that the hostile conduct of locals was causing higher casualties in the Valley
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and General Rawat paid their last respects to the three of the four soldiers, including a major, who were killed in two separate encounters in Kashmir on Tuesday.
Rawat’s message came a day after three soldiers faced heavy stone-pelting at Parray Mohalla of Bandipore in northern Kashmir when they were about to launch an operation against militants holed up there.
Alerted by the stone-pelters, the militants got an opportunity to fire hand grenades and empty a few magazines from AK-rifles into the advancing troopers, leaving three soldiers dead and some others, including a commanding officer of the CRPF, injured.
General Rawat said security forces in Jammu and Kashmir were facing higher casualties due to the manner in which the local population was preventing them from conducting the operations and “at times even supporting the terrorists to escape”.
“We would now request the local population that people who have picked up arms, and they are the local boys, if they want to continue with the acts of terrorism, displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, then we will treat them as anti-national elements and go helter-skelter for them.
“They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue,” the army chief told reporters in New Delhi, sending out a stern message to those who support militants.
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.
The army chief said if “they do not relent and create hurdle in our operations, then we will take tough action”, stressing those supporting terror activities were being given an opportunity to join the mainstream.
“We are giving them an opportunity, should they want to continue to (do what they are doing now) then, we will continue with relentless operations may be with harsher measures. And that is the way to continue,” he said.