Srinagar: Despite a stern warning from Army Chief General Bipin Rawat last week, protesters continue to hamper counter-insurgency operations in the Valley. In the latest such incident, a few hundred demonstrators attempted to disrupt a search operation on Wednesday in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.A police official said the security forces cordoned off a village in Kulgam district following an intelligence input about the presence of militants inside a hospital. The search operation was launched in Tarigam village at 10 am and two militants were suspected to be inside the hospital, the police official said.However, protesters from nearby villages gathered around Tarigam as soon as the cordon was established and threw stones at police and paramilitary forces manning the outer ring of the cordon, the official said. Tarigam is the native village of CPM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami.The police official said a crowd of over 200 protesters tried to disrupt the anti-militancy operation. “We had to fire tear-smoke shells to disperse the crowd,” the official said.The official said the anti-militancy operation continued and remained unaffected by the protesting crowd. The search of the hospital and the adjoining structures ended after five hours when militants could not be traced.Another cordon and search operation was launched in Kulgam district’s Qoimoh area, the police official said. “It was based on speculative input and there was a minor law and order incident there too,” the official said, adding that the operation was conducted smoothly and concluded after militant presence was not established in the area.Protests at encounter sites are still being held despite a stern warning from the Army Chief, who had last week said that if locals “become a problem in our operation and if that causes losses to our soldiers, we will not hesitate to use weapons”.General Rawat had further said that the security forces were facing higher casualties due to the manner in which locals were preventing them from conducting the operations.A high-profile militant, Abu Dujana, was suspected to have escaped last week when the police intercepted the car in which he was travelling in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district and protesters later clashed with the security forces, which is believed to have helped him escape from the spot.
No let-up in protests
- February 22: Over 200 protesters attempt to disrupt a search operation in Kulgam district, restrained by tear-smoke shells
- Feb 18: Search operation launched in Newa area of Pulwama, protesters clash with security forces
- Feb 15: Army Chief Bipin Rawat warns protesters
- Feb 14: Three soldiers killed in a gun battle in Bandipora district, where protesters clashed with forces during several anti-militant operations in past month
- Feb 14: Police intercept a car in which militant commander Abu Dujana was travelling in Pulwama. Protesters clashed with the forces to distract them from the chase (Tribune News Service)