493136-army1-ptiThe Army has finally decided to step in to secure the strategic highways and important road axis to ensure safe convoy and civilian traffic movement during the day in the restive Kashmir valley.

For the last 40 days Army has been plying its convoys during nights to avoid the stone-pelting mobs and protesters in the valley. Protesters had also blocked the roads and highways by erecting barricades to prevent security force from entering the villages and interior areas.


Since the Amarnath yatra and Hajj pilgrimage is over, the troops will be deployed to sanitize and secure all important highways and roads from Friday to ensure the smooth movement of convoys and other vehicular movement.

“I must clarify that the Army was moving during nights not because we could not take care of the roads, but to avoid collateral damage. Also because it was pilgrimage period,” lieutenant general Satish Dua, general officer commanding (GoC) 15 corps told reporters on the sidelines of JAKLI passing out parade.

“We had decided that till August 18 or 19 we will move in such a manner that we do not create inconvenience to the people. As it is, we were to move during the day from tomorrow onwards. And that is to be put in effect. It has nothing to do with the attack on the convoy,” he added.

Elaborating, the general said the roads will be secured since the Yatra and Haj (vehicular movement) are over. “You will see from tomorrow the traffic, both civil and the army… normalised and restored during the day,” he said.

The army commander, however, clarified that troops have been instructed not to get involved in the law and order situation.

“Wherever we go for patrolling, we take law and order component along, be it police or CRPF or both. So many of my men are admitted in hospital because people have suffered fractures… We have no non-lethal weapons. Instructions are very clear that we will take the hit but we will not fire our rifles unless jawan’s life is at risk,” he said.

Lieutenant general Dua noted mandate and position of army is clear that they here to control terrorism and militancy. “At no stage army is going to assist them (in law and order duties). But, yes, when we go for patrolling, we need the component of law and order. Sometimes, if we are faced with the stone pelting situation we need them to extricate us because we do not have non lethal weapons,” he said.

The army general said there have been a few cases when they stepped in during initial days to save the police from mobs. “Police posts were burnt, their camps were attacked… there have been situations where we have gone to assist the police to extricate when they were surrounded by mob,” he said.

Lt Gen Dua said Pakistan is trying to take advantage of the situation by trying to push in infiltrators into Kashmir.

Source: Daily News & Analysis