The Indian Army has sent a blunt take-no-prisoner message to mothers in Kashmir.
“Anybody who has picked up the gun in Kashmir will be eliminated unless he surrenders. This is a message and a request to all the mothers that please tell your children to surrender. There is a very good surrender policy being initiated by the government so that they can join the mainstream,” Lt Gen. J.S. Dhillon, the army’s 15 Corps commander, told a media conference in Srinagar.
“Otherwise, as I said earlier, anyone who picks up the gun will be killed… unless he surrenders,” Lt Gen. Dhillon added during the first media interaction by the security forces since the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
Lt Gen. Dhillon directly blamed the Pakistan army and the ISI for the militant attack. He said Jaish terrorists were being controlled from Pakistan “with active support of the ISI and the Pakistan army…. The Jaish-e-Mohammed is the baby of the Pakistani army…. Pakistan army involvement (in the suicide bombing) is 100 per cent.”
Besides Lt Gen. Dhillon, Kashmir police chief S.P. Pani and CRPF inspector-general Zulfiqar Hassan were present at the media conference.
Rights activist Khurram Parvez said although what the army said on Tuesday was the iteration of an “old existing policy”, it was a sign of a shriller rhetoric in line with the statements being made by the political leadership.
“It once again proves they don’t want to take prisoners. What happens is that if there is a possibility to arrest, they will not arrest, they will kill…. These things have been happening for long. If you remember, Farooq Abdullah, when he was chief minister many years ago, had said ‘we don’t believe in filling the jails with militants’,” Khurram said.
Referring to the Pulwama encounter on Monday in which three militants were killed, Lt Gen. Dhillon said the Jaish leadership was being tracked, which led to Monday’s operation.
“I am happy to inform the country that in less than 100 hours we eliminated the Jaish leadership, which was being handled by the JeM in Pakistan,” he said.
“Kamran was chief operations commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Kashmir. He was a Pakistani and he was being handled by the Jaish-e-Mohammed of Pakistan in conjunction with the ISI and the Pakistan army across the border.”
Police officer Pani said the security forces’ focus had always been on the Jaish, and that 58 militants of the outfit had been killed in the past year.
“So far this year among the 31 eliminations, 12 belonged to the Jaish. It is not that the security forces’ focus is not on Jaish. You have to appreciate that in 2018 there was not a single suicide attack that the Jaish could carry out. We are doing our best…. We are after them,” Pani said.