Top security officials in Kashmir today appealed the youth who have joined militancy to shun the path of violence, assuring them that a surrender will ensure a safe passage and full support for rehabilitation.
The appeals were made by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Zone Munir Khan, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Victor Force Major General B S Raju and Inspector General Operations CRPF Zulfiqar Hassan at a joint press conference at Police Control Room here.
It comes in the backdrop of a surrender of a militant in Shopian yesterday and arrest of an over-ground worker (OGW) today in Kulgam, both in south Kashmir.
"We had back to back very good result-oriented operations in Shopian and Kulgam. The operations were a bit different this time. In Shopian, in spite of the fact that one of the militants namely Adil Sofi, a local guy who had joined militancy around three months back, was firing during the course of encounter," Khan said.
"He was firing at the forces. He lobbed a grenade at the forces. Somehow, he lost balance and could not fire anymore. He could have been killed by the forces, there was no other way out, but we preferred to give him a chance to come to the mainstream," he said.
He said rather than killing him, the security forces preferred that he join his parents again.
"That's why we opted to catch him alive, with a very clear message to others who have been lured into all this that if they come, we will receive them with open arms. Not necessarily during the encounters, even now they can come and join the mainstream," Khan said.
He said two other militants were killed in that encounter as even after persuasion, they chose to fight a lost battle and carried on with firing at the forces.
Khan said today's operation in Khudwani area of Kulgam was also a very clean and crisp operation during which an over ground worker was not killed but given a chance to come back to mainstream.
There was another guy Arif - an established chronic OGW - lifeline for the militants in that area. There were all the reasons to knock him off during the encounter. But no, he was not having a weapon, so we did not kill him.
Nobody would have questioned or raised a finger if he was killed because he was with the militants and this was not for the first time that he was arranging logistics for them.
"He is a habitual and an established OGW, but no weapon and we did not kill him. This is the difference between a disciplined force and a terrorist. These terrorists kill our men when they are on leave at their houses or go to meet their parents or when they are playing volleyball with their friends. They hit them, they kill them, (but) this is the difference," he said.
While presenting the duo before the media, the IGP said there is a clear-cut policy to deal with such cases.
"Any militant whom we arrest or who surrenders, if he is not involved in heinous offences or heinous crimes, we are supposed to rehabilitate him and help him join the mainstream", he said, adding that the government is very keen to rehabilitate the local youth who shun militancy.
Complimenting the Army for checking infiltration on the Line of Control to keep foreign militants away, Khan said the security forces were targeting the militant leadership specifically to stop recruitment of youth.
"The recruitment and infiltration are two different things but compliments to the army that in spite of a number of infiltration bids, they have been foiled effectively by the army. I do not deny that some of them might have come in," Khan said.
"We are targeting the militant leadership. That is because it is the leadership which recruits. So, our target is the leadership to stop the recruitment," he said.
IG CRPF said the security forces would assure a safe passage and a good life to those who surrender.
"We want to assure every citizen of Kashmir that if anyone wants to surrender, safe passage is assured, rehabilitation is assured and when the three agencies combine together with all their resources, we can ensure a good life, a safe life to anyone of the Valley who wants to surrender, who wants to come to the mainstream," Hassan said.
"We as three vital parts of the security apparatus in the Valley want to assure every person in the Valley that your future would be safe if you decide to get away from whoever is misguiding you and we can assure you bright future," he said.
Hassan said the highlight of the two operations was that they were conducted in volatile areas, but there was no civilian casualty.
"A new phase I think we all want to enter is where we can conduct operations without getting in confrontation with civilian population and that has been proved," he said.
Asked whether the security forces were planning of incentivizing the arrests or surrenders of militants, Hassan said the biggest incentive is given to a person who ensures surrender as it is the biggest achievement.
"Surrender is always considered biggest. We all feel sad when somebody dies. It doesn't give happiness to any of us. So, surrender will always be given the highest priority, even for our men that if you get surrenders, that is the biggest thing you can do and that is the biggest achievement," he said.
The general officer commanding (GOC) of south Kashmir based Victor Force of the Army said it was not the first time that the security agencies were asking militants to surrender.
"The first such incident was in 17 March this year. We had Padmgampora operation where we made Mohammd Shafi to talk to his wife. In the case of Abu Dujana, where one of our company commanders spoke to him at length despite Dujana being a foreign terrorist, but he did not relent. And today we are extremely happy that the man relented and shunned the path of violence and keeps another day to contribute to the society, Major General Raju said.
Appealing the militants to shun violence and surrender, he said violence only led to destruction and miseries.
"I am looking at the fathers, mothers, sisters, brother of militants whose wards had joined militancy or who are about to join militancy, my appeal to you all, to these gentlemen is to ensure not allow them to take path of violence because this has not taken the whole process in the Valley anywhere," he said.
"We are also appealing that if anybody wants to surrender, we will ensure that he gets a safe passage. That is the assurance that we give from all the security agencies and Adil is a living example of a surrender which has taken place," he said.
The army commander said the influx of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) into south Kashmir was a cause of concern for the security agencies as they typically get into fidayeen mode.
"It is fact that there is an influx of JeM cadre into south Kashmir. It is a cause of concern because they are typically getting into fidayeen mode. But, we have methods and measures to ensure this kind of activity is also kept in check," Raju said.
He said at present 113 were active in south Kashmir out of which about 100 are locals.
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