‘Development and restoration of peace Governor’s top priorities’

Srinagar, July 15:

Advisor to Governor N N Vohra on security matters, K Vijay Kumar said killing of civilians at the hands of government forces was regrettable but also unavoidable most of the time when people converge near the sites of frequent gun battles in Kashmir.

“When there is (a) gun battle and civilian enters, nobody knows with whose bullet he was killed or injured,” Kumar said in an exclusive interview to Greater Kashmir.

“People converge and merge then the killing is unavoidable.”

The former top cop said every effort was being made to restore peace and normalcy in Kashmir, and among top priorities of the Governor’s administration were development and avoiding collateral damage during gun fights with militants.

“Civilian killings are regrettable. We feel more pain. We want such incidents must not happen,” Kumar said.

“Be it killings of civilian or soldier that is painful and regrettable.”

He said Governor Vohra has directed security forces to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with the situation.

“He (Governor Vohra) has directed the security forces to avoid civilian killings and other collateral damage,” Kumar said.

According to the security Advisor, Vohra was deeply anguished when government forces killed three people including a 12-year-old girl in Shopian recently, and told the forces “laxity” in following the Standard Operating Procedure “won’t be tolerated.”

“He (Vohra) called a high level meeting where top officials of security agencies were present and told them that this should not happen,” Kumar said, adding the security forces had also been asked to carry out specific intelligence-based anti-militancy operations.

“Besides the civilian killings we are hopeful that other collateral damage is avoided with the help specific operations,” the Advisor said.

“We want that common masses are not harassed or they should not feel incontinence.”

Reacting to the rumours anti-militancy operations would be further stepped up after end of AmarnathYatra, Kumar said there won’t be any change in the existing operational strategy.

“Operations are going on consistently and there is no question of any (new) offensive after Yatra,” he said.

Kumar said fresh recruitment of local boys into militant groups was showing a downward trend and “concrete steps have been taken to stop” it.

“We are doing CBMs (Confidence Building Measures) for youth especially for southern Kashmir. There is also definite mechanism by which the grievances of the youth are addressed.”

About reports of alleged harassment and atrocities committed by the security in parts of Kashmir, Kumar said respective Senior Superintendent of Police (SSPs) and Deputy Commissioners have been directed to take cognizance of such incidents.

“The people who face harassment or any problem should meet SSPs and DCs of respective district,” Kumar said.

“In case their problems are not redressed they should come to our offices.”

Kumar said Governor Vohra has also directed minimum use of pellets and other force.

Courtesy: Greater Kashmir