Tourists, pilgrims told to exit J&K amid security concerns

CRPF personnel stand guard in Srinagar, on Friday. An additional 25,000 security personnel were ordered to be moved to Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, days after Governor Satya Pal Malik said “all was normal” in the State.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Tourists and the Amarnath pilgrims were directed to “curtail their stay in Jammu & Kashmir” on Friday, as the Army said the Pakistani Army and terrorists were “planning to upscale violence” and tried to “target the yatra recently.”

Meanwhile, several civilian installations were evacuated in the Valley for troop accommodation, sparking a fresh wave of panic.

“Latest intelligence inputs received suggest specific threat to the yatra,” read the advisory issued by Shaleen Kabra, principal secretary in J&K’s Home department.

Searches on routes

Earlier in the day, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 15 Corps, Lt. Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, revealed that an anti-personnel landmine was found during the searches on the twin routes to the Amarnath shrine, “following specific intelligence inputs.”

“The landmine bore the marks of a Pakistan ordnance factory. A US (M-24) sniper rifle was also in the cache of arms recovered. The Pakistan Army and terrorists are desperate to disrupt peace in J&K. Searches on the trek routes and the highways are going on,” said Lt. Gen. Dhillon, without divulging any further details.

The Army officer warned Pakistan of “serious action” in case it resorted to ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) or infiltration bids in J&K.

“Launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) are full and bids are being made to push infiltrators. The Army gave a fitting reply in Kupwara sector recently. We will retaliate very hard in such a situation,” Lt. Gen. Dhillon said. 

The Army officer said Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) attacks were emerging as “pronounced threat” of late; as 10 such attacks were reported since the Pulwama attack in February. One such blast was triggered in Shopian on Thursday but failed to inflict any damage on the Army, the officials said.

Lt. Gen. Dhillon warned local youth against resorting to stone pelting and appealed to mothers to rein in their wards. “83% local terrorists killed this year were once stone pelters. If your son is throwing stones today for Rs. 500, then he is tomorrow’s terrorist. Sixty four percent local militants get killed within a year of their joining,” he added.

On fresh mobilisation of around 25,000 personnel, Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said the numbers were “exaggerated”.

The National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar, has suspended classwork till further orders.

“Fresh inputs suggest militants will upscale violence. The counter insurgency grid and the law and order components were being strengthened. Besides, the troop induction will relieve those who have been serving in J&K in the past nine months without a rest, and were busy conducting urban local bodies, panchayat and parliament elections,” he said.

Meanwhile, police sources said several civilian installations like a drug de-addiction centre in Srinagar, premises of the polytechnics and J&K Cements building were asked to keep their structures on standby for troop stay.

These measures triggered a fresh wave of panic in Kashmir. People were busy stocking essentials. medicine and petrol all day. Most ATM machines were closed early today after unprecedented cash withdrawal, a bank official said.

Officials said the Centre was working on a “significant measure” in J&K that may likely have a fallout on the law and order situation. 

As the BJP in its manifesto had pledged to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A in J&K, speculations in the Valley are the Centre may be working in this direction. 

Rein in stone throwers, says Army

Lt. Gen. Dhillon, said that improvised explosive device (IED) attacks were emerging as “pronounced threat” in Kashmir of late.

Lt. Gen. Dhillon warned local youth against resorting to stone throwing, and appealed to mothers to rein in their wards. “83% of local terrorists killed this year were once stone-pelters. If your son is throwing stones today for ₹500, then he is tomorrow’s terrorist; 64% local militants get killed within a year of joining militancy,” he added.

Police sources said civilian installations such as a drug de-addiction centre here, polytechnics and the J&K Cements building were asked to keep their premises on standby for the stay of the forces.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, has suspended classwork till further orders.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 5:43:32 AM |

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