In a clear sign of an expanded role for the Army in restive south Kashmir, hundreds of additional soldiers will be deployed in rural areas.
Violent protests have continued unabated in these areas since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani two months ago, and the extra presence of the Army is meant to “send a signal” to protesters through ”area domination” and ”enhanced patrolling,” sources said.
The aim is also to simultaneously step up patrols against insurgents.
At the same time, the Army is absolutely clear that it is not equipped to deal with mobs and protests since its soldiers carry automatic weapons and are trained to shoot to kill. Therefore, basic policing responsibilities will remain with the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force or CRPF who use non-lethal weaponry to control violent crowds.
Sources said the overall goal is to reclaim state authority in rural areas of the state, which has been degraded.
In a clear signal to Pakistan, the Army Chief General DS Suhag who is in Kashmir today is visiting Indian Army formations along the Line of Control. In the last few months, the Army has been involved in a series of encounters with terrorists who have infiltrated.
He will be briefed by senior Army officers and local formation commanders.
Over 70 people have died and nearly 10,000 have been injured, many of them security personnel, in the clashes that have followed the death of Burhan Wani on July 8.