The army will have to kill militants and will do so but there is no intent to harm civilians, a top commander said today and sought cooperation of the people in restoring peace in Kashmir where the situation is “grim”. Lt General J S Sandhu, Commander of Srinagar-based Corps which looks after security of the Kashmir valley, expressed concern over the number of videos of militants being circulated on the social media and the rise in militancy- related incidents in the valley.
He said the situation in Kashmir was “grim” but the valley has to be taken out of such a situation towards peace and prosperity. “It is a matter of concern, but I want to assure you that for the last few months, we have been taking action against the militants to a great deal and we will continue doing so… We will continue action against the militants here,” he said while talking to reporters at the end of a two-day youth festival ‘Jashn-e-Baramulla’, “We have to kill militants and we will kill militants only. We should not need to kill anyone else. Basically, our intent is that,” Lt Gen Sandhu said.
He did not elaborate but was apparently referring to the situations when the army is forced to act against mobs of stone-pelters who assemble at the encounter sites to disrupt operations by the forces against militants. This kind of trend has been increasing. Lt Gen Sandhu referred to last Saturday when the army killed two militants in Hayatpora near Budgam and asserted, “Such operations will continue.”
Asking the people of Kashmir to cooperate with the army, he said the intent of the force is not to harm the civilians. “Only yesterday, in the Unified Headquarters meeting, we discussed this (not harming civilians during anti-militancy operations). Our intent is also that people should cooperate,” he said. Expressing happiness over the ‘Jashn-e-Baramulla’ festival in which Kashmiri youth participated in large numbers, the army commander said it was a ray of hope as it “gives us a sense that people here want peace” and “want their lives to be better”.
He said the army has to take along youth of the valley as they are the future of the nation. “Today, Kashmir is going through grim situation and we have to take Kashmir out of this situation, towards happiness and prosperity. But, I think, that is not up to us. That is in the hands of the people of Kashmir,” Lt Gen Sandhu said.
To a question by a reporter, he said, “It is absolutely right, 100 per cent, that we have to take the youth along and work with them because youth is the future of a nation. If we cannot ensure better future of the youth, then the nation will not progress,” he said. “Our endeavour is to take a step. When others cooperate with us, such steps increase. But if there are hurdles in front of those steps, then there are difficulties. “But, I want to assure you that the government forces, security forces and people, all want peace and we are all trying to restore that peace,” he added.