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    After two bids, IAF to shop for refuellers

    URGENT IAF’s IL­78 tanker fleet plagued by maintenance problems

    NEW DELHI: India is set to launch a fresh hunt for mid-air refuellers to expand strategic reach of its air force after two failed attempts to induct new tankers.

    FILE PHOTOAn Indian Air Force Ilyushin Il­78 refuelling a mid­air flight.

    The Indian Air Force will soon float a tender for at least six midair refuellers that could cost upwards of $2 billion, an air marshal familiar with the development said.

    The IAF’s Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 tanker fleet is plagued by maintenance problems and more refuellers are required to stay prepared to counter China in the eastern sector, the threestar officer said.

    This will be the third tender for tankers in the last 10 years, with the previous two failing to end up as contracts due to price complications. Ilyushin’s Il-78 and Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) offered by European aerospace corporation EADS competed for the previous tenders. The scope of the competition will be bigger this time.

    A four-cornered contest is in the offing with American, Russian, European and Israeli military contractors eyeing the lucrative deal.

    “We look forward to taking part in the competition with our KC-46A multi-role tanker and have had various levels of discussions with the IAF. We are following it closely,” said Robert D Schoeffling, senior manager (global sales and marketing), Boeing Military Aircraft.

    The US Air Force awarded Boeing a $2.1-billion order for 15 KC-46A tanker aircraft, spare engines and wing air refueling pod kits in January, following a previous order for 19 planes last August. The KC-46A is a Boeing 767-based refueling aircraft. Boeing will build 179 KC-46 tankers for the USAF by 2027.

    Israel will also be a new entrant to the competition. Israel Aerospace Industries’ Bedek Aviation Group has firmed up plans to take part in the contest with its Boeing 767200 multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT).

    Bedek’s marketing and business development manager Sharon Katzir said the Israeli firm was in talks with the IAF and would compete for the order.


    Army chief calls for united action to curb stone-pelting

    SRINAGAR: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Friday called for coordinated efforts by security forces to effectively deal with the problem of stone-pelting by civilians during counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir.

    PTI PHOTOArmy chief General Bipin Rawat paying tribute to Lance Naik Ghulam Mohiuddin Rather in Srinagar on Friday.

    The army chief discussed the issue with army officers during security review meetings at headquarters of counter-insurgency units— Kilo Force and Victor Force in Srinagar, an official said.

    “Reinforcing the need to maintain high vigil, the army chief discussed the issue of stone-pelting during operations and impressed upon all to synergise efforts with the other security agencies in dealing with such situations effectively,” the official said.

    Rawat, who arrived in Srinagar on Thursday, was briefed on the prevailing security situation and recent operations conducted by the security forces.

    He also reviewed the collaborative measures of security forces towards ensuring peace in the region.


    Rawat, accompanied by Northern Command chief Lt General D Anbu and Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen JS Sandhu, paid tributes to the three soldiers killed in a militant attack in Shopian on Thursday.

    He laid floral wreaths on the coffins carrying the mortal remains of the three soldiers —Lance Naik Ghulam Mohiuddin Rather, Sapper Sreejith MJ and Sepoy Vikas Singh .

    “As the entire nation salutes the martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Shopian, the army gave a befitting farewell to its brave hearts today in a solemn ceremony here,” an army spokesperson said.

    The army chief also expressed anguish over the death of an elderly woman, Taja Begum, in the attack.




    Dangerous distraction in the Valley of angerby Majid Jahangir in Srinagar

    Dangerous distraction in the Valley of anger
    Youths throw stones at security personnel during clashes in Srinagar. PTI

    The Army has woken up to the reality that increasing public support to militants in the Valley poses a greater threat to its objective of establishing and maintaining peace in Kashmir. On Feb 14, when the Army lost four soldiers, including a Major, in two separate encounters in north Kashmir’s Bandipora and Kupwara districts, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat termed the militant supporters as “over-ground workers”.More baffling is the fact that public support is visible in areas where the anti-insurgency campaign has been most effective. In Hajin area of Bandipora, which was the home of counterinsurgency king Kuka Parray, hundreds of youngsters came on streets during the raging gun-battle to help the holed-up Pakistani militants escape. This was not the first time — at least five times, militants were helped by local supporters to escape the cordon.“It (the people gathering at the encounter sites) is a difficult situation for us,” admits J&K Police Director General of Police (DGP) Shesh Paul Vaid.This trend began much before the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8 last year. In the much highlighted Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) encounter in Pampore on Srinagar outskirts last year, which left three commandos, including two officers, dead, people gathered around the encounter site, played songs in mosques and tried to hamper the 3-day-long operation.Such crowd behaviour started from south Kashmir — a virtual breeding ground for militants: youth would march towards the gunfight sites to help militants escape. In many cases they succeeded. The trend is gaining ground in north Kashmir districts, the region that lies close to the Line of Control.All this is despite curbs of people’s movement – such as imposing prohibitory orders — before an encounter begins. In reality, such measures yield little. “They throw stones to distract the forces,” says Inspector General (IG) Operations of the CRPF in Kashmir, Zulfiqar Hassan. “In recent two encounters — Frisal Kulgam and Hajin Bandipore — even though we killed five militants, the mob helped the militants to escape.” Hassan, however, says militants pressure people to help them to escape. “These days forces want to wind up anti- militancy operations as quickly as possible to avoid law and order situation. Besides, it is the hiding militant that keeps an eye on forces’ movement and it is he who has the initial initiative. That’s the reason forces are suffering casualties in the first push during the operation,” the officer said. “In a few cases civilians are used as human shields by militants to escape.” The villagers have their own version. A resident of Arwani Anantnag, Riyaz Ahmed, says people facing frequent clampdowns have become immune to the fear of security forces. “There is a lot of anger among the youth. There is no political dialogue. All this causes frustration, which leads people to help the militants. Also, most militants are locals, so, they enjoy support and sympathy,” he said. Whatever is happening is in sharp contrast to the initial anti-militancy campaign launched by the Army. During the early years of 1990s, militants when trapped in a house, were all for themselves. The people would either flee or submit to the orders the men in olive green, till the encounter was over.Another trend is picking up: youngsters go live on social media during their attempt to reach out to militants. The social media, officials said, help militants and separatists to garner support. In Kashmir, the power of social media became evident, after Burhan Wani’s death that triggered a five-month-long unrest and left nearly 90 people dead. 

    Militant strength

    • 250 approx Total militants
    • 225 approx Listed militants
    • 130 Locals
    • 95 Foreigners
    • 110 Lashkar-e-Toiba(foreigners as well as locals)
    • 90 Hizbul Mujahideen(all locals)
    • The rest are associated with Jaish-e-Mohammad and Al-Badr

    Valley’s Sufism giving way to violent Islam by Maj Gen JS Kataria (retd)

    There is an ideological change taking place in Kashmir. It needs to be countered, and the funding choked. Cases of mob attacks have increased because many who initiated violence were allowed to get away unpunished.

    Valley’s Sufism giving way to violent Islam
    Protesters throwing stones at paramilitary forces after a village was cordoned off in South Kashmir on Wednesday. Tribune photo

    The eruption of militancy in the Kashmir valley in 1989 and the subsequent terrorism has been long seen as an internal political issue, exploited by the ISI in cahoots with the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (AHPC) in an attempt to dismember J&K from India. The recent intensification of mob violence, stone pelting episodes and even attempts to interfere in the Army’s operations have thrown open the question whether it continues to remain a purely political problem? There is evidence of ideological changes, which need to be identified, their impact studied and a way ahead found.Jammu and Kashmir has been the cradle of Sufi saints, often referred to as the “Muslim rishis”. It is through the preaching of these Sufi saints that Islam gained ground in the Valley. Some like Syed Sharaf Uddin Rahman (Bulbul Shah), Mir Muhammad Hamdan, Noor ud-din Noorani (Nand Rishi), and Hazrat Baba Payamudin (Baba Rishi) left an indelible imprint on the lives of the people of J&K. It grew as a mature society, inclusive of all religions. Where does it stand today?The arrival of militancy and the consequential terrorism in Kashmir has led to wanton destruction of schools, factories and infrastructure. The law and order machinery in the state has been paralysed, the youth subverted and encouraged to take up arms, and Kashmiri Pundits forced to flee. It has been a breakdown of the age-old culture and tradition of peaceful co-existence. The worst was the burning of Charar-e-Sharief, a bastion of Kashmiriyat, by terrorists from Pakistan. People of the Valley remained mute spectators to this unsavoury assault.Amidst intense anti-terrorist operations of the 1990s, the Army launched operations to ‘win hearts and minds of people’ that had gone astray. It was formalised as “Op Sadbhavana” in late 1997. Its five-pronged approach was to revitalise education, health care, community development, improvement of infrastructure and youth development. By 2010, over Rs 400 crore allocated by the Centre had been spent on various schemes under Op Sadbhavana. Government schools were restored and Army Goodwill Schools (AGSs) established. Intense counter-terrorist operations coupled with Op Sadbhavana yielded positive results. The casualty rate in 2006 came down to 1,116, against 5,204 in 2000. The number of tourists in the Valley jumped to 7 lakh from less than 1 lakh. The economy of the state started growing by 5-7 per cent from 2006 to 2010.The state has a large number of Waqf Board schools and madarsas run by Deobandi organisations. Against 30 AGSs, the madarsas are more than double, many of which have affiliations with terrorist organisations in Pakistan. It is these madarsas, coupled with mosques supported by the APHC, that are responsible for subverting minds of the youth to make them pro-Pakistan and anti-Indian establishment. This continuous assault on Kashmiriyat is instrumental in the change of ideology.Since 2010, separatist leaders have managed to re-group. The cases of Pakistan/ISIS flags being waved, stone-pelting mobs, attacks on police station, looting of banks, burning of schools and youth development centres have witnessed an abrupt rise. The few who initiated violence and escaped without retribution were elevated to exalted positions and became influential. This encouraged bystanders to join as active participants. The violence reached a crescendo in 2016 in the aftermath of the killing of Burhan Wani, who was a Hizbul Muzahideen terrorist.Troops operating in the Valley In the early 1990s also faced mob violence. Though the Army operated with restraint, those responsible for acts of violence were given a clear message to stop or face the music. By 1996, when the first elections were held, mob violence had stemmed and the situation continued to improve till its resurgence in 2010. The occurrence of recent mob assault on the troops deployed in Handwara is a repetition of the past. General Rawat’s warning to the supporters of terrorists/separatists that hereafter they would be treated as anti-nationals is the need of the hour. There is an ideological change taking place in the Valley – a clear departure from Sufism to violent Islam. It needs to be countered – their funding needs to be choked.A number of people from the Valley have moved to other tourist centres in India and set up businesses. A case in point is Jew Town in Cochin, which has nearly 40 per cent stores run by Kashmiris, including some ‘hardliners’. Cochin is an important naval base. The presence of ISI moles in various parts of India is a well-known fact. There is a need to keep tabs on the hardliners’ funding. It is estimated that terror funds to the tune of thousands of crores annually flow into the Valley. Demonetisation was one attempt to block this funding, but the recent discovery of fake currency has put a question mark on its efficacy. There has to be multiplicity of effort on this front.Peace could return to the Valley if the lost culture of Kashmiriyat/Sufism is restored and the gun culture curtailed. It is the people of the state who have to realise this, and do it themselves. Followers of a moderate Islam have to find their voice for the sake of their future generations. The government has been talking to all stakeholders, including the separatists/AHPC, for a long time. It may be time to leave them in a limbo to generate space for the moderate voices if the country has to find a solution to the Kashmir imbroglio.

    Army casualties in Kashmir cause for alarm T. K. Singh

    The Army should be allowed to function without political pressures, even as serious efforts should be made to avoid collateral damage that hurts the sentiment of locals. Apparently, the mishandling of post-Burhan Wani protests was a major reason for the renewed violence.

    The year 2017 has had an unhappy dawn for the Indian Army, with an unexpectedly large number of soldiers getting killed in encounters. A distressingly high number was also killed by avalanches. While the loss of lives in counter-terror operations is understandable, death by snow in this age of technology and forecasts was avoidable.Kashmir is witnessing a rising trend of local mobs supporting militants in fleeing from encounter sites. Concerned over the development and increasing violence, the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) declared the Army’s intention of “acting tough” against supporters, which later led to a political controversy.February has been particularly bad. On February 12, two Army personnel were killed in a skirmish with combined cadres of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) at Nagbal in Frisal area of Kulgam district. Two civilians also lost their lives in the crossfire, as locals had suddenly turned up in the street to pelt stones at the security forces, helping three militants to escape. In a similar gunfight on February 14, a Major of 30 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was badly injured by LeT members in Handwara area of Kupwara. The wounded officer was not able to reach the hospital in time and died because of protests in the streets and a roadblock by locals. Earlier on the same day, three jawans had been killed and five injured, including one CRPF Commanding Officer, in an encounter at Parray Mohalla Hajan in Bandipora district. Members of the public had come out at the encounter site and started pelting stones at soldiers, disturbing their operation and facilitating the escape of a militant. On February 23, three Army jawans were killed and five others, including two officers, were injured in a militant attack in south Kashmir’s Shopian district. A woman was also killed in the cross-fire.Infuriated by the subversive activities of locals and their repeated causing of impediments in counter-military operations (compromising the Army’s initiatives), on February 15 the CoAS, General Bipin Rawat, said “tough action” would be taken against the people responsible. He further stated that the Army would continue to conduct relentless operations with harsher measures if the locals persisted in stone-pelting. Separatist leaders and Opposition parties, however, attacked the government saying the Chief’s statement was potentially dangerous as it would worsen the already hostile situation in the region.Members of the J&K National Conference (JKNC) said General Rawat’s statement would increase public aggression in Kashmir. Later, a separatist leader from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Syed Ali Geelani, claimed it was an open threat to kill civilians freely. Moderate APHC chairman Mirwaz Umar Farooq and J&K Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik believed it was the result of a “tyrannical mindset” against Kahmiris and immature politics, and was a direct threat to citizens. Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tariq Hameed Karra, who recently joined the Congress, also condemned the remark as politically motivated and alleged the Army was being used by the ruling party.Nonetheless, the Chief found full support from the political leadership in the Union government as well as the top brass of other security services. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, accused the Congress of “politicising the issue” and speaking the language of separatists. Kiran Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home, explained that the statement of the Army Chief should not be misinterpreted, and should rather be seen from the perspective of national interest and the prevailing circumstances in J&K. A.V. Chauhan, Inspector General (Jammu sector) of the CRPF, said his force was working closely with the Army, and reiterated that the miscreants that help armed militants escape should be treated firmly under the law of the land.Concerned over the hurdles being created by locals during encounters, on February 15, a high-level security review committee gave out important guidelines for the security forces (the CRPF, J&K Police, and the Army) and the state administrative machinery involved in counter-militancy operations. First, a joint control room with an armour-protected vehicle would be set up at the encounter site. Next, the Deputy Commissioner concerned would take the responsibility of preventing the assembly of civilians at the encounter site. The police would identify over-ground workers who provide shelter to militants. Local police officials would also trace the stone pelters and take stern judicial action against them. Subsequently, on February 16, the state government issued an order to ban people’s assembly at encounter sites and imposed prohibitory orders within a radius of 3 km.Undoubtedly, the recent developments illustrate the intention of local elements to provide direct or indirect support to militants during encounters. This is adding to the increase in the casualty figures of soldiers and compromising counter-militancy efforts.The Army should be allowed to function without political pressures, even as serious efforts should be made to avoid collateral damage that hurts the sentiment of locals. Apparently, the alleged mishandling of protesters by security forces after the death of Burhan Wani in July 2016 was one of the major reasons for Kashmiri youth picking up arms (or stones).The sad loss of soldiers in avalanches was, of course, avoidable. On January 25, a Major from the High Altitude Warfare School was killed when an avalanche hit an Army camp at Sonamarg in Ganderbal district. Again on January 27, ten soldiers were killed and four went missing after an avalanche knocked down a camp in Gurez sector in Bandipora district. Our inability to protect the soldiers from such natural disasters needs introspection on our use of technology. If need be, India should collaborate with foreign agencies that have the necessary expertise.The writer is an Assistant Professor at the Department of National Security Studies, Central University of Jammu.

    Masked youths at it again, wave IS, Pakistani flags

    Masked youths at it again, wave IS, Pakistani flags
    Youth throw stones on the police during a protest in Srinagar. Tribune Photo: Yawar Kabli

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, February 24

    The Islamic State and Pakistani flags were raised during the Friday protests outside Jamia Masjid in Srinagar for the second consecutive week since the Army Chief’s warning to those waving the flags.The flags were waved by masked youth outside Jamia Masjid in the Nowhatta locality of Srinagar’s old city after the midday congregational prayers, eyewitnesses said.The eyewitnesses said the protesters raised slogans as they waved the flags outside the mosque. The waving of the IS and Pakistani flags has taken a new centrestage following the warning by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat last week.The Army Chief had on Wednesday last week described the display of the IS and Pakistani flag as “acts of terrorism” and warned those waving them that they would be treated as “anti-national elements”.The display of the flags outside Jamia Masjid is a routine after the Friday’s congregational prayers.During today’s demonstration, the protesters also displayed pictures of militants. The protesters later clashed with police and paramilitary personnel, deployed in strength around the mosque to prevent the protest from spilling over to other localities.The police and paramilitary forces fired tear-smoke shells to disperse the protesters, who threw stones at them.

    Guv speaks to chief of Northern Command on Shopian ambush

    Tribune News Service

    Jammu, February 24

    Governor NN Vohra has expressed serious concern on the militant attack on Army personnel, resulting into death of three soldiers and injuries to several others.He spoke to Lt Gen Devraj Anbu, chief, Northern Command, to convey his grief over those killed and wished speedy recovery to the injured personnel.Observing that the Army and other security forces were carrying out their duties in an extremely difficult environment, the Governor voiced anxiety about the continuing attacks on the uniformed forces, some of which also result in the loss of innocent civilians lives, as happened in Shopian.On Thursday, three Army men were martyred and five others, including two senior officers, wounded in the terrorist attack in Shopian district. The 44 Rashtriya Rifles personnel were ambushed at Mulu Chitragam, 60 km from Srinagar, while they were returning after a search operation at Kungnoo village.The Governor had spoken to the Northern Command chief on February 15 and reviewed internal security management of the state, particularly the Kashmir valley. He had also spoken to the heads of other security forces who were involved in counter-terrorist operations in the Kashmir division.A Major and three soldiers were killed in two gunfights in Bandipora and Kupwara districts on February 14. At least 13 security personnel, including two officers, had also received injuries in the encounters.Pertinently, the worrisome situation for security forces is that the local people have been helping the terrorists to escape from the encounter sites.

    Army men, villagers bid adieu to slain Anantnag soldier

    Suhail A Shah

    Anantnag, February 24

    Army men today gave a gun salute to Lance Naik Ghulam Mohiuddin Rather who was buried at his native Panchpora village in Anantnag district.A few hundred people, including Rather’s relatives and neighbours, attended his funeral prayers today. Most of the mourners were from the Army. Rather was among the three Army men killed in a militant ambush in Mool Chitragam village of Shopian district in the wee hours of Thursday. Five more soldiers, including two officers, were injured in the deadly ambush.On Wednesday evening, Rather (35) had cut short the call to his family, promising to call again in the morning.The family did, however, receive a call on Thursday morning but it was not from Rather. It was a call from his unit in Katho-Halan village of Shopian district, informing the family that Rather was no more.Rather, who was the only son of his parents, had joined the Army in April 2002 at the age of twenty. He was contemplating premature retirement. “He wanted to take care of his ailing parents and marry off his sister after taking premature retirement, for which he would have been eligible in a couple of months,” said Abdul Rehman, Rather’s relative.Rather’s mother is suffering from brain tumour while his father has a physical and mental disability, making him completely dependent on others.“Their son was their only hope and they were looking forward to his retirement to make ends meet,” said Saleem Ahmad, Rather’s neighbour, who described the slain soldier as the humblest soul in the neighbourhood.Locals told The Tribune that Rather was a hardworking family man. They said he had got his sister engaged a week ago, which was also the last time he had visited home.“His aged parents are devastated, but the worst hit are his sister, wife and his two-year-old son, who doesn’t even know what has happened,” said Rather’s another relative, pointing towards his two-year-old son Ahil Mohiuddin who was playing in the courtyard.At their single-storeyed house, where the family has recently moved in, Rather’s wife, Shahzada Akhter, was inconsolable and neighbours took turns to pacify her.

    Killed in Shopian ambush

    • Lance Naik Ghulam Mohiuddin Rather was among the three Army men killed in a militant ambush in Mool Chitragam village of Shopian district in the wee hours of Thursday. He had joined the Armyin April 2002
    • A few hundred people, including Rather’s relatives and neighbours, attended his funeral prayers on Friday. Most of the mourners were from the Army

    Farooq takes up for militants, says they’ve made a promise with God

    Farooq takes up for militants, says they’ve made a promise with God
    NC president Farooq Abdullah addresses party workers in Srinagar on Friday. Tribune Photo: Amin War

    Azhar Qadri

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, February 24

    National Conference leader and three-time state Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today came out openly in defence of militants, saying they have made a “promise with God” and are sacrificing their lives for freedom.Farooq’s rare pro-militant rhetoric, which came at a time when the levels of violence and sympathies for militants have significantly shot up, illustrated a stark change of heart for a political leader who had once advocated a full assault against militants and their backers.“If our children are offering sacrifices today, they do not want to become MLAs or MPs or minister. They offer sacrifices (to demand) their rights: this is our land, we are its owners,” Farooq said, addressing a gathering of his party’s workers and leaders at an event commemorating the death anniversary of his brother Sheikh Nazir.The NC leader’s new-found love for the separatist cause has a remarkable similarity to the soft-separatist politics of his party’s arch-rival PDP, which had blurred the lines between the mainstream and separatist politics during its years as the opposition party.Though Farooq did not make a clear mention of militants — instead referring to them as “they”, his speech was laden with references indicating he was eulogising the new generation of armed youth.Farooq, who has three times served as the CM, said everyone loves life and no one wants to die. “They have made a promise to God that he is the giver and taker of life, but we will give our lives for the freedom of this land,” he said.He said a “new nation has been born, which does not fear guns”. “This (new) nation strives to achieve the freedom of this country,” Farooq said.He also criticised the policy of responding to bullets with bullets. “If someone says bullets will be responded with bullets, (should know) that they are not afraid of bullets,” he said.The former CM linked the current phase of fighting to the 1931 agitation, which became the ladder to leadership for his father Sheikh Abdullah.He complained that promises made in 1948 — a reference to the implementation of UN resolutions on J&K which called for plebiscite — have been forgotten and asked India and Pakistan to do justice “with us.”

    Ops to continue with vigour: Army Chief Reiterates strict action against those who hurl stones, interfere in operations

    Ops to continue with vigour: Army Chief
    Army men carry the coffin of Lance Naik Ghulam Mohiuddin Rather, killed in Thursday’s ambush in Shopian, during his funeral procession in Anantnag district on Friday. Tribune Photo: Amin War

    Majid Jahangir

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, February 24

    A day after the killing of three soldiers, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat today made it clear that “anti-militancy operations will continue with vigour and action will be taken against those indulging in stone-throwing to disrupt such operations”.General Rawat had rushed to Srinagar hours after the Shopian attack to assess the security situation. The Army has lost nine men, including an officer, in less than two weeks.During two high-level meetings at the headquarters of the Army’s counter-insurgency divisions — Victor and Kilo Force — the Army Chief listened to officers engaged in anti-militancy operations.The officers, sources said, informed the Chief about the dual challenges — one from militants and another from stone-throwers. He was also briefed about the recent four operations in which the Army had suffered casualties.Sources said the Army Chief expressed concern over the high number of the Army casualties during these operations. “The Chief made it clear that the anti-militancy operations will continue with vigour. At the same time, he said, strict action will be taken against those who hurl stones and interfere in such operations,” a source said.Despite General Rawat’s stern warning last week, the youth in Kashmir continue to hamper anti-militancy operations.Meanwhile, a defence spokesman in Srinagar said the Army Chief along with Northern Command and Chinar Corps chiefs Lt Gen D Anbu and Lt Gen JS Sandhu visited Victor and Kilo Force Headquarters.The spokesman said the Army Chief also reviewed the collaborative measures of security forces towards ensuring peace and calm in the region. He interacted with local commanders and troops and urged them to continue discharging their duties with utmost professionalism.“Reinforcing the need to maintain high vigil, the Army Chief also discussed the issue of stone-pelting during Army operations and impressed upon all to synergise efforts with other security agencies in dealing with such situations effectively,” the spokesman said.

    Tribute paid to slain soldiers

    • Army chief General Bipin Rawat paid tribute to the three soldiers (Lance Naik Ghulam Mohi ud Din Rather, Sepoy Vikas Singh Gurjar and Sapper Sreejith MJ) killed in the recent militant attack at Shopian
    • Wreaths were also laid on behalf of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti by two ministers Abdul Haq Khan and Ghulam Nabi Lone
    • Officials of the civil administration and security agencies also paid tribute to the martyrs at a solemn function held at the Badami Bagh cantonment