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After Mehbooba, Army commander urges Kashmiri youth to ‘give peace a chance’

South Kashmir has borne the brunt of the violence so far with 45 deaths in the districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian. In all, 66 people have died in the violence that has brought normal life to a standstill for 42 days now.

Burhan_wani_kashmir Updated: Aug 19, 2016 13:43 IST
Kashmiris have been clashing with security forces since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in July. Sixty six people have so far died in the violence that has injured hundreds more.(AFP)

The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Army’s Chinar Corps, Lieutenant General Satish Dua has appealed to the youth of Kashmir Valley to help restore peace.

“For how long can you do this and what will happen by this? Like chief minister said on August 15, give peace a chance. Now is the time that we have to bring peace together. Children are not able to go to school. Fruits are not moving to markets. Patients are not able to go to hospitals. And there are many difficulties like these,” General Dua said on Thursday on the sidelines of a passing out parade in Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Centre in Rangreth in Budgam district.

He said that it was regrettable as to what is happening in Kashmir for the last 40 days.

Read | Kashmir: Curfew stretches to 42nd day, ambulance driver latest casualty

He said that to de-escalate the situation, the state government and security forces need to control the cycle of violence.

“This cycle of violence can’t be controlled only by us it can happen after everybody’s support. I appeal the people particularly youth to help us. Then the state will take its steps like engaging with different groups,” he said.

“As far as law and order situation is concerned that has been handled well by the police and the CRPF. As far as law and order situation is concerned, the police and the CRPF have done a god job. Things keep coming under control, but if there is a casualty, then the cycle of violence does pick up, ” he said.

Read | Need to start dialogue process in Kashmir: Mehbooba Mufti

Pakistan factor

General Dua also said that the protests which erupted immediately after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last month were spontaneous but soon after, “engineered violence” emerged in north Kashmir.

“The situation (right now) is far from normal. For the initial few days after July 8, there were spontaneous protests. Thereafter we have seen a cycle of almost engineered violence more in north Kashmir,” said General Dua.

He blamed Pakistan for trying to take advantage of the current unrest in the valley.

“During these days there have been attempts from Pakistan to facilitate more infiltration as they think we are busy internally. But you all know how many encounters took place with militants (during these days) and many more were pushed back (across the LoC),” General Dua said.

Read | Pak interfering in J-K, has direct role in Kashmir proxy war: Army

He, however, was not sure how many youth have joined the ranks of militants during the current unrest. “It is difficult to ascertain how many youths have joined militants and how many infiltrated owing to the situation,” he said.

The GOC Chinar Corps said that the army was dominating the areas in the hinterland to make sure that they are free of militancy.

Kashmir has been in the grip of a violent unrest that began after Wani’s death in an encounter on July 8. Since then, 66 people have lost their lives and thousands have been injured in crackdowns by security forces on protesters in the Valley. Protests have ranged from anti-India and pro-azadi rallies to stone pelting on security forces.

Read | Kashmir all-party meet: Modi discusses atrocities in PoK, Balochistan

South Kashmir has borne the brunt of the violence so far with 45 deaths in the districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian.

General Dua acknowledged that not all protests are violent. “Nowadays things are cooling down in terms of protests. Not all protests are violent or they are not pelting stones all the time which is a good thing,” he said.

Taking control of highway

The army has now decided to dominate the national highway and move their convoys during the day from Friday.

The convoy movement during the day was suspended after protesters thronged the highway in south Kashmir following Wani’s death.

“We were moving during the nights essentially for two reasons: One to avoid any collateral damage and second because of the haj period (till August 19) as there was a lot of vehicular movements (early in the morning after namaz). We had decided to move in such a manner so as not cause any inconvenience to the people who see off their friends and relatives for the haj,” Dua said dismissing any claims that the decision to ply during the day had anything to do with attack on an army convoy in Baramulla.

Two soldiers and a policeman were killed after militants attacked an army convoy on Wednesday night in Baramulla.

He said that they would secure the highway for both civilian and military movement. “When our convoy moves on roads, those will be obviously secured and you will see from tomorrow that traffic will be through both of civil and army,” he said.

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First Published: Aug 19, 2016 11:28 IST