Stone pelting more serious problem than militancy; says IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar

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Srinagar: Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar on Monday reiterated to book stone pelters under Public Safety Act as stone pelting was a more serious problem than militancy.

Addressing a press conference along with a senior army officer here following a gunfight at Manihal area of South Kashmir’s Shopian district, he said that four local militants were killed as they declined to surrender. “Even wife of one of the slain militant tried to persuade him, but militants opened fire from inside the house,” he added.

Though the slain militants claimed to be members of the so called Lashkar-e-Mustafa, they categorized militants owing allegiance to Lashkar-e-Toiba as per police records, he said, adding that three pistols and one AK were seized from them.

The slain militants were identified as Rayees Ahmad Bhat who was active from October last year,

Aqib Ahmad Malik (active from November last year), Aftab Ahmad Wani (active from December last year), Amir Shafi Mir (active from February this year.

He said so far nine encounters have taken place in Kashmir Valley including one in North Kashmir and eight in South Kashmir. Nineteen militants have been killed and nine of them belonged to Shopian district. Two of the militants killed include two top commanders—Gani Khowaja and Sajjad Afghani.”

He said 18 youth joined the militant ranks recently and five of them have been killed while three others have been arrested. “Others are active in the field. We are in touch with their families and some are pipeline to return,” he said. 

He said that also seven other youth have returned to mainstream with the help of their respective families. 

“Till 2 am we were hoping that there would be surrender (in Shopian),” he said and reiterated SOP announced in January this year by virtue of which the top police officer said that focus is on the surrender.  “Our focus is on surrender of the locals during or before the encounter,” he said. 

He also issued an appeal to youth surrender either before or during encounter.

Kumar also said that so far no civilian has been killed. He said three policemen and a soldier were killed in separate militancy related incidents this year so far. 

“Yesterday one soldier was injured (in Shopian and he is stable,” he said.

The top police officer said that Pakistan was continuously trying through social media to radicalize the youth. “Drugs are coming from Pakistan. Request parents to be vigilant and if someone is using drugs, get help from police hospital.”

He said security establishment was fully prepared for summer. “We are increasing nakas and shifting camps. After elections we will be getting more security personnel and we will plug gaps wherever required.”  He said there would be safe and incident-free Amarnath yatra which starts from June this year.

Regarding law and order around gunfights site, he said, “When firing starts, we evacuate people and some people, miscreants among them resort to stone pelting.

People from other village don’t come. We continue to identify them and some are booked under PSA and will continue to so in future,” he said.

He said such incidents were under control and urged media not to “spread false narrative that stone pelting is increasing so that environment gets vitiated.”