250 terrorists operating, 142 killed in Kashmir this year: DG CRPF

DG CRPF RR Bhatnagar flanked by ADG J&K VSK Kaumudi (L) and IG CRPF Jammu Sector AV Chauhan (R) at a press conference in Jammu on Friday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
DG CRPF RR Bhatnagar flanked by ADG J&K VSK Kaumudi (L) and IG CRPF Jammu Sector AV Chauhan (R) at a press conference in Jammu on Friday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

‘Stone pelting down in Valley’

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Aug 24: Director General of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), RR Bhatnagar today said that nearly 142 militants have been killed in anti-terrorist operations this year so far while over 200-250 ultras were still operating in Kashmir.
Talking to media-persons here today, the DG asserted that the law and order situation is “better” in Kashmir now as compared to last year and the number of injured personnel has also come down. Not only this, the stone-pelting incidents have also come down considerably.
While speaking on the general security scenario, the DG said it has shown improvement in Kashmir and the stone- pelting by youth has also shown considerable decline. He disclosed that security forces have eliminated nearly 142 militants so far during this year.
Responding to a question, the DG CRPF claimed that as per the intelligence inputs received from certain quarters, there are nearly 200-250 terrorists still operating in Kashmir. While some of them are said to be foreigners, the number of local recruits is said to be higher. I don’t believe in number as it goes on changing but these are the inputs of the Intelligence agencies,” Bhatnagar added.

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While referring to the efforts of his force to discourage youths from joining militancy, Bhatnagar said a helpline called ‘Madadgar’ has been started by them, which received 2.5 lakh calls during last one year mostly from the parents of the misguided youth who have picked up gun and now want to shun this path. He said out of frustration, the militants were targeting unarmed security personnel and their families.
“Our force is better protected and there is a better security situation on the law and order front in Kashmir . In days to come, security forces will perform even better,” he maintained.
On being asked about the big challenges in Kashmir, the DG said besides Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra, counter- terrorism and law and order issues, which include stone pelting, shutdowns and strikes, were the big challenges in Kashmir. The force is dealing with them sternly. He said peaceful yatra was the outcome of better coordination among the security agencies and administration.
“We are dealing with challenges effectively. We have very good coordination with other security agencies including State Police and security forces are successful in dealing with the situation”, Bhatnagar added.
“The militants are engaged in cowardice act by targeting unarmed police men in their homes and also the CRPF, to create an environment of fear and terror”, he added.
“With every sacrifice, security forces become more determined to stamp out terrorism and our force will strongly deal with them,” the DG asserted.
When asked militants increasingly recruiting youths from the Kashmir valley, the DG said the ratio of foreign and local militants keeps changing.
“Security forces have an upper hand as no major suicide attack has been successful. There is an effect of security operations on the ground and recruitment of youth in Kashmir by militants. We are dealing with it effectively,” he said.
On being asked about CRPF casualties due to stone pelting attacks in Kashmir valley, the CRPF DG said from 2016-17 the injuries have decreased because of body protectors. “Our safety gear has improved. Less lethal weapons are being used. Several things including tear and smoke shells, plastic bullets, pellet guns and a spectrum of less lethal weapons are now in use to ensure that collateral damage is contained,” Bhatnagar maintained.
Replying to another question, the DG said the suicide attacks by militants on camps of the paramilitary forces, whether it was in Srinagar or in North Kashmir, have been well defended and foiled.
“At one camp, they were able to come inside but it was an under-construction camp and there also we have neutralized them,” he said. Many steps are being taken for the security of camps including use of technology and surveillance equipments, he added.
Referring to the security for the forth coming Panchayat elections, the DG said the notification has not come as yet for Panchayat polls. “Security establishment will make a good arrangements for the poll security,” he said.
The DG said that the CRPF was trying to ensure that the misguide youth rejoin the national mainstream. For this, they are carrying out several programmes including that of sports.
“We have got a good response in these initiatives of sports and Bharat Darshan programmes,” he added.
“Our country is providing opportunities to the youth who are being radicalized in Kashmir valley and these initiatives not only continue in Kashmir valley but in the Naxal areas as well. Many Medical camps and other welfare activities are being carried out in Naxal hit areas and with these efforts, nearly 40 % reduction in Naxal activities have been witnessed during last two years,” he added.
The DG said that there is a very good response in recruitment drives by security forces in Kashmir and youths in thousands come out to join security forces.
“We have ensured that every martyr of CRPF gets Rs one crore as compensation apart from their service dues,” he said.
Bhatnagar said that CRPF has a long tradition of valour and sacrifice. CRPF is on forefront of internal security challenges whether it is Jammu and Kashmir or in Naxal areas or in north east, he added.
“Apart from this, we are also engaged in relief work during various natural calamities”, he said adding that on Independence Day, the CRPF was awarded with a record of 96 gallantry awards, which included five Shourya Chakras,” he maintained.
The DG also referred to the contribution of the CRPF from Jammu sector for Kerala flood victims. He claimed that a consignment has been sent by the CRPF from Jammu today.