No mercy for militants, says Army Chief in Kashmir

Srinagar: Worried over the “rising graph” of casualties of soldiers in Kashmir, the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Friday directed his men to “go tough” against militants and have an “in-house” review of possible lapses in the movement of forces’ convoys in the Valley. He also stressed on a “well-coordinated plan” among security agencies to deal with pro-freedom protests at sites of gunfights between militants and forces.

Informed sources said the Army Chief arrived here on Thursday afternoon to take stock of the security situation in the wake of a midnight ambush by militants in Shopian district that left three soldiers dead and seven others, including two officers, critically injured. “The Army Chief was accompanied by Northern Army commander, D Anbu,” an Army official said.

Rawat reached the Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps headquarters and met the General officer commanding (GoC), Lt General J S Sandhu.

“A high-level security review took place at the headquarters of Victor Force and Kilo Force in South and North Kashmir respectively wherein the Army Chief sought details of counter-insurgency operations from the concerned Army commanders. General Rawat also sought details and sequence of events that unfolded during the ambush on an Army convoy in Shopian,” the official said. 

In the meeting, the official said, the Army Chief stressed on the fact that “it was just the second month of 2017 and casualties on the Army side are much higher despite the fact almost all infiltration passes are closed due to snow.” 

The Army chief’s meeting with the Victor Force assumes significance as it comprises Rashtriya Rifles battalions that primarily deal with counter-insurgency operations.

Nine soldiers including two Major-rank officers have died while fighting militants since January 1 this year, according to officials, while 20 militants have also been killed in various gunfights in the Valley.

A senior official, privy to deliberations during the two separate meetings, said the Army Chief while lauding the “courage and bravery” of soldiers fighting militants, passed directions on stepping up anti-militancy operations across Kashmir, especially in southern areas.

“Rawat asked the soldiers to have no mercy on militants and ensure there is no casualty on the Army side. He also called for streamlining and strengthening the Road Opening Parties (ROPs) which are primarily responsible for giving a go-ahead for convoy movements along Srinagar-Jammu highway and other inter-district routes,” the official said.

Sources said Rawat also directed the Army officials to formulate a joint strategy to deal with protests at gunfight sites. “He stressed that a strategy or a comprehensive plan is need of the hour to ensure nothing disrupts the anti-militancy operations,” they said.

Pertinently, J&K’s Director General of Police Dr SP Vaid recently hinted about possible changes in “outer-cordon at encounter sites.”  Earlier, the Army chief had warned of harsh action against those who try to disrupt anti-militancy operations in Kashmir. His statement however came in for severe criticism from the pro-freedom camp, saying it was an “open threat to people of Kashmir.”


The Army Chief on Friday paid floral tributes to three soldiers who died in the midnight militant ambush in Shopian district of South Kashmir on Wednesday.

Army Spokesman in Srinagar, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said General Rawat laid wreaths on coffins of Lance Naik Ghulam Mohiuddin, Sepoy Vikas Singh Gurjar and Sapper Sreejith MJ at Army’s 15 Corps headquarters in a solemn ceremony.

“The chief expressed his grief and condolences to the bereaved families. He also conveyed his anguish at the unfortunate death of an elderly lady, Taja Begum, in the attack and prayed to Almighty to grant strength to her family to bear this irreparable loss,” the spokesman said.

Wreaths were also laid on behalf of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti by Abdul Haq Khan, Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Ghulam Nabi Lone, Minister for Agriculture, while officials from Civil Administration and Security agencies were also present.

“After his arrival on Thursday, the Army Chief first met the injured soldiers at the Army’s Base Hospital and wished them speedy recovery,” the spokesman said. “After paying homage to the soldiers, the Army Chief along with Northern Army commander Lt Gen D Anbu and GoC 15 Corps Lt Gen JS Sandhu, visited Victor and Kilo Force Headquarters where he was briefed on the prevailing security situation and on the recent operations conducted by the forces.”

The spokesman said the Army Chief also reviewed the collaborative measures of forces towards ensuring peace and calm in the region and interacted with local commanders and troops urging them to “continue discharging their duty with utmost professionalism.”

“Reinforcing the need to maintain high vigil, the Army Chief also discussed the issue of stone-pelting during operations and impressed upon all to synergise efforts with the other security agencies in dealing with such situations effectively,” he said. “The General also appreciated the various humanitarian initiatives undertaken by the troops to bring succour to common people and exhorted them to sustain this positive engagement with the people.”