JAMMU, Apr 4: CRPF Additional Director General VSK Kaumudi said today that surrender of the militants was first option for them and they would like that to happen before exercising the second and last option i.e. the encounter to eliminate the militants. He said the CRPF was ready to accept if any genuine replacement was suggested to the use of pellet guns in the Kashmir valley.
Speaking to media persons in Rajouri after high-level review of security situation in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, Kaumudi referred to Sunday’s encounter at Anantnag in South Kashmir saying the parents of one of the militants came forward to appeal to their son to shun militancy and surrender.
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“The militant agreed and we happily accepted the surrender. In fact, surrender by the militants is our first choice. We will like that to happen. But if someone is firing at you, the right to retaliate has to be exercised as it were not only the security forces, who have surrounded the militants, have to be saved but large number of civilians, who live in the vicinity, also have to be protected from the militants’ firing,’’ the top CRPF official said.
Kaumudi said if there is rioting or an encounter, the force is justified. “It can be used (to neutralize the militants)’’.
Admitting that situation in the Kashmir valley was “challenging’’, he, however, said that whatever the circumstances, the CRPF has been using minimum force and exercising maximum restraint. “The force is used as the last option when other options don’t succeed,’’ he added.
On hue and cry in the Kashmir valley over use of pellet guns, Kaumudi said the pellet guns are also used as “last option’’ to control the protesters. On alternate to pellet guns, he added that the CRPF wouldn’t only accept the option but would also give reward to those, who come up with effective alternate of pellet guns.
During Sunday’s two gun battles in South Kashmir in which 13 militants, three Army soldiers and four militants were killed, a number of civilians were injured, majority of them having sustained pellet gun shots. They were undergoing treatment in various hospitals of Kashmir.
“We are operating in the Kashmir valley within the prescribed limits but at a great cost as many of our jawans have been martyred or injured. Our rules suggest that anyone, who moves with explosives and guns and break other forms of rules and law, constitute an offence. Our first preference remained to catch them without any use of force. We use force as the last option,’’ the CRPF top official said.
Replying to a question on stone pelting incident in the Valley especially at the site of encounters, Kaumudi said the trend has now come down.
In response to another question on controversial statement of Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi, the CRPF official said he hasn’t gone through the statement. “We are doing our job. We don’t need advice from Afridi,’’ he commented.
On Sunderbani encounter in which four Pakistani militants were killed recently, he said the operation was neat and clean and was executed professionally by all security agencies. Asked whether CRPF camp near the site of encounter was target of the militants, he said the security agencies have done good job by eliminating all militants.
On how he would rate situation in the Kashmir valley, Kaumudi said: “it (the situation) is before you’’.
To a question on security situation in Rajouri district, he said he reviewed the situation with top officials and some incidents 2014 onwards, call for our alertness.
Earlier in the morning, the Additional Director General of CRPF visited twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, where he reviewed security situation, both along the borders and hinterland, with top officials and discussed steps required to meet with any kind of challenges from the militants.
He was at Rajouri and Poonch spending two to three hours at each district, inter-acting with top officials and taking assessment of situation from them.
The CRPF has already asked all its installations to remain on high alert after Sunderbani operation in which four Pakistani militants, who had infiltrated into this side from the Line of Control (LoC) reportedly with a view to target security installation, were gunned down in an encounter by the security personnel.