Majid Kapra

Taking steps to ensure safety of Panches, Sarpanches: IGP Kashmir

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Militants use religious places in a bid to create stir

Srinagar: Panches and Sarpanches are soft targets for militants as around 90 percent of them do not have personal security officers but the police are taking steps to ensure their safety, Kashmir’s IGP Vijay Kumar said on Saturday.

His remarks came a day after a Sarpanch was shot dead by militants in Adoura in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. This was the third killing of a local elected representative in the union territory this month.

“Panches and Sarpanches are a soft target as about 90 percent of them do not have a PSO (personal security officer). We have provided secure accommodation in Srinagar to those who face a threat. Some have been put up in district headquarters,” Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of talent hunt programme organized by police at Tagore Hall Srinagar.

Referring to Friday’s killing in Kulgam, the IGP said the Sarpanch was given a secure accommodation at a hotel here but he left without informing the police.

“We regret it. I went to Kulgam and took a (review) meeting there, discussed the preventive measures and dos and don’ts. We will try our best to keep all the PRIs or PPs (protected persons) safe so that they can work in a safe environment,” he said.

According to officials, militants fired upon the Sarpanch, Shabir Ahmad Mir, near his residence in Adoura around 8.50 pm on Friday.

On March 09, an Independent Sarpanch, Sameer Bhat, was shot dead by militants on the outskirts of Srinagar. On March 02, militants shot dead an Independent Panchayat member, Mohammad Yaqub Dar, in Kulgam’s Srandoo area.

Kumar also said in every encounter, there is at least one Pakistani militant. Pakistan has instructed militants “to carry out attacks near religious places so that they suffer some damage and people’s religious sentiments are stirred”.

“Pakistan wants to create law and order problems. The militants receive instructions from their handlers in Pakistan to carry out attacks on security forces using religious places. They want to stir up the crowd by causing damage to sacred places. We are taking preventive measures and carrying out operations without any loss (damage) to religious places or any collateral damage,” he said.

A Pakistani militant of Lashkar-e-Taiba was killed in a brief shootout with police near the Hazratbal shrine here on Thursday.

“His aim was to attack the shrine guard and snatch his weapon,” Kumar had said.

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