Soldiers Asked To Remain Calm If Attacked With Stones, Says Kashmir Army Commander

12 September 2014
Barkha Dutt

New Delhi: Soldiers working to rescue the thousands of people who still remain stranded in Srinagar have been asked to remain 'very calm' if they are pelted with stones by angry crowds, a senior army officer told NDTV today. 'Our assessment is that crowds are being provoked,' said Lieutenant General Subrata Saha, General Officer Commanding the 15 Corps. ' Incidents of stone-pelting are a hindrance to our rescue and relief operations and are denying people their right to be rescued,' he said, while stressing, 'I have instructed my men to be very calm if incidents of stone pelting take place.' The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been ravaged by the worst floods in over a century. The army, air force and navy have engineered a massive operation that has so far brought more than one lakh people to safety. But recently, army trucks have been attacked with stones as they tried to deliver supplies in Srinagar; the air force yesterday said it was scaling back on its winching operations- roping up stranded people into helicopters - after threats of stones being hurled. In Srinagar, where the River Jhelum burst into the streets after becoming swollen with unusually heavy rain, anger among the people is simmering over what they describe as the detachment of the state government, which they say has failed to provide any assistance in the crisis. Speaking to NDTV, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said he is not interested in 'a credit game.' He also said, 'I had no government', pointing out that several of his top ministers were stranded in the floods and it was impossible to contact them because phone networks had been knocked out. The chief minister also said that the stones are being thrown not by frustrated residents -whose anger is understandable, he said - but by 'disruptive elements' seeking 'to fish in troubled waters'