‘Will take steps to ensure there is no collateral damage during gunfights’
Srinagar, Dec 24: As the recent killing of seven civilians at the encounter spot in village Sirnoo in Pulwama district evoked wide-spread anger triggering a debate whether the standard operating procedures (SoP) of forces was faulty, security grid of Kashmir have started fine-tuning its encounter strategy to prevent repeat of Pulwama incident.
Reliable sources revealed to Kashmir In-depth that forces were ‘reprimanded’ by the Governor S P Malik and his security advisor Vijay Kumar for the seven civilian killings at the encounter spot at village Sirnoo where three local militants were also killed.
On Friday last, three local militants and seven civilians including a teenager and a MBA graduate were killed in at Sirnoo during an encounter. Forces said that the encounter took place in an open field, where youth from all directions tried to march towards the “spot where militants were cornered” and in the heavy exchange of firing seven civilians got killed.
However, while on one hand, the killing of seven civilians triggered a three-day long shutdown in Kashmir amid protests, the Governor Malik asked forces to follow the SOP in true letter and spirit besides “streamlining their synergy while engaging themselves in counter insurgency operations.” Governor’s advisor Vijay Kumar too chaired a meeting in Jammu and passed similar directions to the forces: “Follow the SoP to ensure civilian causalities don’t occur.”
A source said that all the security agencies have been in a huddle since past many days to “find out what went wrong in Sirnoo.”
“It has unanimously been decided that the law and order component will be further strengthened to deal with the protesters who try to inch closer to the encounter sites in a bid to help militants flee,” the source said. “All the measures will be taken to fine tune the SOPs, to prevent collateral damage.”
A top police officer confirmed to Kashmir In-depth that police, CRPF and the army top officials have held a series of meetings to fine-tune the SoPs just to ensure no civilian causality takes place during counter insurgency operations.
“Various layers of cordons will be further strengthened to ensure zero collateral damage. As far as blowing up of houses is concerned, forces only resort to that when there is a firing from the other side,” he said, wishing anonymity.