Army Con­cerned Over Hand­wara Post Re­moval

21 RR at Hand­wara had neu­tralised 14 mil­i­tants in two years, post vi­tal for mon­i­tor­ing area

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

New Delhi: There are con­cerns that a de­mand to re­move the Army post in Hand­wara, where the cur­rent round of protests orig­i­nated, may have an ad­verse im­pact on anti-mil­i­tancy oper­a­tions in Jammu and Kash­mir.

The Hand­wara town post, manned by the 21 Rashtriya Ri­fles, had come un­der at­tack on Tues­day af­ter a mob wen­ton­ther­am­pa­geon­rumorsthata lo­cal girl had been mo­lested by sol­diers. Three peo­ple were killed in fir­ing by se­cu­rity forces to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion af­ter an Army bunker was burnt­dow­nand­sol­dierssur­rounded.

The district mag­is­trate will now be writ­ing to the Army to re­move the post, with sources say­ing that po­lit­i­cal pres­sure may also come into play to dif­fuse the sit­u­a­tion. How­ever, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials told ET that the post is cru­cial to anti-mil­i­tancy oper­a­tions in the re­gion and over­looks five con­verg­ing roads.

“The post is of strate­gic im­por­tance and has been vi­tal in keep­ing an eye on over ground work­ers. It is a ma­jor town post that is led by a com­pany com­man­der,” an of­fi­cial said, adding that mil­i­tant ac­tiv­i­ties in the town are kept un­der watch from the post. Hand­wara and its sur­round­ing ar­eas have seen heavy mil­i­tant ac­tiv­ity in re­cent years, with the 21 RR record­ing 14 kills since 2014, in­clud­ing a record seven mil­i­tants killed last year. “The 21 RR has a good grip on the area and has neu­tral­ized two mil­i­tants al­ready this year,” Col SD Goswani, the spokesper­son for the Army’s North­ern Com­mand told ET.

TheHand­wara­po­s­tand21RRsp­res­ence in the area is also a po­lit­i­cal stick­ing point, with En­gi­neer Rashid, the lo­cal in­de­pen­dent MLA rais­ing its re­moval from the town as an elec­tion agenda in 2015 in which he even­tu­ally won, de­feat­ing pow­er­ful can­di­dates of the PDP and Na­tional Con­fer­ence.

A youth was killed on Fri­day and three oth­ers in­jured as se­cu­rity forces fired in Kup­wara to dis­perse protesters who were pelt­ing stones on an Army camp dur­ing a demon­stra­tion. Protests rocked many places in Kup­wara and its ad­join­ing ar­eas to mark the fourth day of death of three per­sons who were killed in fir­ing by se­cu­rity forces in Hand­wara on Tues­day fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of mo­lesta­tion of a girl. Re­ports of protests were also re­ceived from parts of south Kash­mir and Sri­na­gar city but there were no ca­su­al­ties in th­ese in­ci­dents.—

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