January 2019 News

No Large IS Presence In Kashmir: DGP

2 January 2019
Rising Kashmir
Javid Ahmad

Srinagar: Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh Wednesday ruled out any large presence of Islamic State (IS) in Kashmir but said people are being radicalised on the lines of IS ideology. 'In the past also, (IS) flags were carried and displayed publicly to show that there is very large presence of such elements. We will again say that IS presence is not that big in Kashmir but the fact that people are being radicalised on those lines that can't be denied,' Singh said while addressing a press conference, here. He said Kashmir civil society has been an open society with a very secular kind of culture, where people extend due respect to all worship places and other things. 'Such efforts had been made at various quarters and their expression has been seen in the kind of activities we saw other day (at Jamia Masjid),' the DGP said. On Friday, after congregation prayers concluded, masked youth appeared at the pulpit of Jamia Masjid and waved the IS flag. The incident has evoked strong condemnation from separatists, traders and civil society. On the militancy violence in 2018, DGP said the situation on the law and order front remained normal while number of incidents of violence remained large in last year compared to previous years. 'The efforts from across the border to keep Kashmir youth in uncertainty and lure them to militancy continued. The infiltrations happened at large scale and the large number of bids were also foiled,' he said. Regretting loss of lives, Singh said any loss of life in counter-militancy operations be it of a militant, force personal or civilian was not worth praise. 'Loss of any life can't be worth praise. To term it as success doesn't feel good,' he said. The DGP said 91 forces personnel including 45 policemen were killed in militancy violence last year. He said some policemen were killed at their homes, some of them were abducted and later killed and very less died in anti-militancy operations. DGP said that a large number of civilians were also killed last year. '44 civilians were killed by militants.' He condemned the IS-style execution of civilian in south Kashmir and uploading of video on social media. 'Kashmir civil society also condemned the incident. There is no option other than condemning such acts because Kashmir has neither seen such incidents nor we want to see it,' he said. Asked whether there will be new strategy this year to avoid civilian casualties at encounter sites, DGP said a revised and refined strategy was in place even in 2018. 'The forces were deployed in large number to keep people away from gunfight sites last year. We made appeals to people that these sites are dangerous and should be avoided. We also encircled and enclose those areas from the public till the area is sanitised. We also made use of loudspeakers to tell people to stay away from encounter sites,' he said. 'We will see what further strategies could be added this year to avoid civilian casualties,' Singh said. He, however, didn't reveal actual number of civilians killed near encounter sites in south Kashmir during past year. A senior police officer, on condition of anonymity, said out of 91 civilian killings, 38 were killed near gunfight sites in 2018. The state police chief said 97 anti-militancy operations were conducted in Valley last year and forces maintained restraint during these operations. 'Out 97 of anti-militancy operations, 83 anti-militancy operations witnessed no collateral damage. But, some operations witnessed civilian casualties due to the crowd pressure as people came close gunfight sites and engaged with forces,' he said. The DGP appealed youth to desist from coming near the gunfight sites. Police said 252 militants were also killed in anti-militancy operations across the Valley last year. '220 to 250 militants are still active in the Valley,' he said. Singh said some youth, who were at the borderline of joining militant ranks, were dissuaded from joining the path of militancy. About the checkpoints in Srinagar and elsewhere, DGP admitted that these checkpoints cause certain amount of inconvenience to people. 'I also understand that these checkpoints cause some amount of congestion of roads. But, as I said that if it is in the interest of people then we all have to bear with it till we get better situation. We will try to cause as little inconvenience to people,' he said. On suspension of internet mobile services during anti-militancy operations in Kashmir, Singh said it is a very big 'uncontrollable' tool available to everybody. He said they have seen in the past that whenever there is a minor law and order problem at a particular place, it is blown up on the social media to that extent that it causes security concerns elsewhere also. 'We don't feel happy to slow down the internet speed. We feel that people do suffer. Infact our own communication also suffers. But, it is done in the interest of public safety and security. We don't do it out of fun. We will see that 2019 has lesser internet suspensions and better communication,' he said. The DGP was flanked by Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) law and order and security Munir Ahmad Khan, Inspector General of police (IGP) Kashmir Swayam Prakash Pani and other top officers of police.