Army Chief General Bipin Rawat warns youth to drop arms else..
"We request the parents of these boys to counsel them... We will have to continue with harsher measures if need be," said Army Chief General Bipin Rawat.
Amid ongoing encounters in Jammu and Kashmir, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat indicated it was time terror was controlled from the grass-root level in Kashmir and warned locals he said are "not supporting the army" despite people-friendly operations.
"We request local population... people who have picked up arms, local boys, if they continue with these acts of terrorism, displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, they will be treated as anti-nationals," General Rawat said. "We request the parents of these boys to counsel them... We will have to continue with harsher measures if need be."
However, Former Union Minister P Chidambaram called the Army Chief's comments "intemperate" and a "wrong approach to Jammu and Kashmir".
The comments come in the backdrop of recent deaths of soldiers, including an army major. In the last three days, six soldiers and two civilians have been killed in fierce gunfights. Security forces say angry crowds have become a huge challenge in anti-terror operations over the last few months.
"Crowds trying to break the security cordon to help militants escape is a major challenge," said Zulfikar Hasan, Inspector General of the CRPF or Central Reserve Police Force.
Reports quoted sources as saying that during the operation in Bandipora, two terrorists had managed to escape due to mob violence. On Sunday, an encounter in Kulgam was followed by protests, during which protestors clashed with security personnel. Crowd control became a problem and pellet guns had to be used, said the police.
Over the last few months, security men involved in anti-terror operations in Kashmir's villages have claimed they were targeted by slogan-shouting, stone-throwing locals.
Last year, Kashmir witnessed five-month-long protests following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani. As protests swelled, the security forces claimed that in many areas, especially in South Kashmir, they became targets of stone throwing by local young men.
Security forces - who came under harsh criticism for pellet injuries in protesters' eyes -- claimed they were targeting the protesters' legs as per protocol and the men had sustained eye wounds only because they were stooping to pick stones.