Indian Army launches ‘Operation Calm Down’ in troubled Kashmir

Indian Army personnel are moving in masses into trouble-torn J&K after another spate of violent protests.

As part of efforts to restore normalcy in the Valley, the Army has moved an entire brigade into South Kashmir under operation ‘Calm Down’ to clear it of militants and demonstrators.

Protesters have continued to clash with government forces since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who had a large social media following and was credited with reviving militancy in Kashmir.

Sources say the redeployment of troops began after Army chief General Dalbir Singh’s visit to J&K last.

The Centre has asked the Army to keep vigil at the border to prevent any further infiltration of militants.

Personals have been instructed to maintain “maximum restraint” in view of the volatile situation in the Valley.

Army sources Quoted : “There is deployment of extra troops in South Kashmir border area and hinterland to mark presence. We have identified 10 major areas of concern specifically in South Kashmir and Kupwara in North Kashmir along with Uri”.

However, the personnel have been told to stay away from mob-control operations as this may increase the number of fatalities of protesters.

Two youths were reportedly killed in Kashmir on Tuesday while curfew was imposed in all the 10 districts of the Valley.

Over 50 incidents of clashes were reported during the day between angry mobs and security forces in which several protesters and police personnel were injured.

Sources say the Army troops assisted by CRPF and state police are combing areas and clearing roadblocks put by protesters by felling trees, electric poles and placing huge boulders as well as burnt vehicles, to facilitate movement of people.

The move came on the back of intelligence reports saying Kashmiri youth, armed with batons, stones and petrol bombs, were patrolling arterial roads leading to the national highway and preventing people from venturing out of their homes or moving towards the capital, Srinagar.

Authorities are hoping that the apple and walnut seasons will compel farmers and traders to force separatists to return the situation in the Valley to normal.

The apple season starts by mid-September when cultivators start sending the fruit to markets outside while the walnut season will kick off by end of the month.

Both products are credited with carrying the Valley’s economy.

The Army has also been asked to carry out area domination exercises. The counter-insurgency grid has also been reorganised, said sources.

“Deployment of the Army has been done near the ‘reception area’ where the terrorists enter Indian territory and hinterland like Tral, Kokernag, Gurez, Machil and Keran sectors along with border and connecting areas,” they said.

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