80 militants killed in 6 months, 115 ultras active in south Kashmir: Army

Srinagar, Nov 3: Asserting that around 115 ultras are active in south Kashmir, a top Army official on Friday reiterated that local militants, who are ready to shun violence and join mainstream will be given every possible assistance.
“Around 115 militants are active in south Kashmir. Of them, 99 are local and the rest 16 are foreigners,” General Officer Commanding (GOC) Victor Force Major General BS Raju told reporters in south Kashmir.
He said in the last six months security forces have killed 80 militants, including top commanders, in various encounters.
The Maj Gen said that security forces are fully capable to meet any challenge and neutralise militants. However, he appealed youth not to join militant ranks.
Maj Gen Raju also appealed to local militants to shun violence and join mainstream. “Every assistance will be given to rehabilitate the militants who want to surrender and lead a normal life,” he added.
The appeal by Maj Gen Raju comes a day after two Army jawans and a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant were killed in an encounter in Pulwama, where two more ultras, who were trapped, managed to escape under the cover of darkness.
Asked about the killing of a BJP youth leader in Shopian yesterday, Major General Raju said these were “acts of desperation” by the militants.
“Two to three such incidents have taken place in the recent past. We are given to believe that these are acts of desperation by the terrorists.
“They are not able to make any concerted action against the security forces. So they are looking at weaker targets and I am given to believe that police are taking necessary action against the perpetrators of these crimes,” he said.
He said the Army and other security agencies would continue to take all necessary actions against the militants so that the people of south Kashmir could live in peace.
“The situation in south Kashmir is much better. Stone pelting and random acts initiated by terrorists have also decreased. As the winter season sets in, our actions would be more effective and peace shall return,” he added.
On the Jaish-e-Mohammad militants in south Kashmir, Major General Raju said the process of neutralisation of the Jaish cadre has already begun.
“We intend to act particularly against the Jaish”.
On fresh recruitment among the militant ranks, he said that it was definitely a cause for concern.
“A lot of stakeholders need to work in a concerted manner to ensure that new recruitment is put in check. I would put the onus on the parents to ensure that they are able to take care of their children and I would put the onus on village elders, to the Moulvis in the villages and towns to ensure that they get right message across to the young people,” he added.
He said teachers and principals of schools and colleges also have a role to play.
“The security forces have to ensure that they conduct operations in such a manner that would not alienate the population and the youth,” he added.