New Delhi, Feb 17: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday backed Army Chief Bipin Rawat's comments that those obstructing anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir will face tough actions. As Rawat's comments triggered a political slugfest, Parrikar said those creating hurdles security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are trying to protect the terrorists and that the government has given free hand to army to carry out anti-terror operations.
"Those who obstruct the operations are trying to protect the terrorists and his (General Rawat's) comment is based on that. In these matters, the decision to act will be the commanding (officer) or the officer who is on the spot. It cannot be generalised," Parrikar told India Today TV. Acknowledging that the hostile conduct of locals was causing higher casualties in the Kashmir valley, Rawat on Wednesday had warned those attacking security forces during anti-militancy operations of "tough action".
He had said people creating hurdles during anti-terror operations and displaying flags of Pakistan and ISIS in Jammu and Kashmir will be dealt as anti-nationals and will face "harsh" actions. "People who are indulging in stone throwing, people who are indulging in supporting the terrorists and helping them escape will be treated like over ground workers of the terrorists and will be dealt with accordingly," he had said.
He had said security forces in Jammu and Kashmir were facing higher casualties due to the manner in which the local population was preventing them from conducting the operations and "at times even supporting the terrorists to escape". "We would now request the local population that people who have picked up arms, and they are the local boys, if they want to continue with the acts of terrorism, displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, then we will treat them as anti-national elements and go helter-skelter for them.
"They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue," the Army Chief told reporters here. General Rawat said those supporting terror activities are being given an opportunity to join the national mainstream but, if they continue with their acts, security forces will come down hard on them.
Replying to a query on the Army chief's remarks, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said restraint should be adopted by security forces while dealing with people in the state. The BJP accused the Congress of speaking in the voice of separatists and politicising the Army for "lowly political gains" while defending Rawat's statement on tough action against locals hampering counter-militancy operations in Kashmir.