With Army in a conciliatory mode, is Operation All-Out ending?

The Asian Age.  | Sanjib Kr Baruah

India, All India

Cordon and Search Operations (CASO), abandoned in 2002 due to public outcry of human rights violations, were also started.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: More than a year after the Indian Army launched “Operation All-Out”, a relentless no-holds-barred offensive against militancy in Kashmir, an ongoing meet of Army commanders at Maneckshaw Centre in the national capital is likely to have decided that the military’s ‘job’ was settled now and it was time for the politicians and civil society to take over.

A top military source familiar with the developments in Kashmir told this newspaper: “The Army is on a reconciliatory mode now as its job is nearly done. Thereby, the Army brass is also sending out a message that it is time for the politicians and civil society groups to take over.”

Also opining that the contours of the resolution of the Kashmir issue lies in the realm of politics, the official said that with the onset of the working season in Kashmir from April to October, it is time for all types of businesses and tourism industry to flourish.

He underlined that it was important for people to utilise this period for their livelihood rather than spend time in fighting.

On Friday, Lt. Gen. A.K. Sharma, director general (staff duties), briefed the media on the ongoing Army Commanders’ Conference: “It was felt that priority must be accorded to ushering peace by conducting counter-terrorist operations that minimise collateral damage. Radicalised youth must be brought back into the mainstream by carrying out de-radicalisation and collective approach that focuses on convincing the youth to shun violence and gun culture.”

This is in sharp contrast to what Army chief General Bipin Rawat said just before launching “Operation All-Out”.

On February 14 last year, during a wreath-laying ceremony for four armymen killed in Kashmir, the chief had said: “Those who obstruct our ops (operations) during encounters and are not supportive will be treated as overground workers of terrorists… We would now request the local population that people who have picked up arms, and they are the local boys, if they want to continue with the acts of terrorism displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, then we will treat them as anti-national elements and go helter-skelter for them.”

With the change in tactics being necessitated because militants were believed to have been hiding among the civilian populace, “Op All-Out” entailed a major shift in the counter-insurgency tactics that sought to toughen the rules of engagement with the Army fanning out into the hinterland in the Valley and operate in a “seeking and engagement” mode. Five sensitive areas — Kulgam, Traal, Pulwama, Budgam, and Shopian — were made the focus of the operations. The counter-insurgency grid was also rearranged.

Cordon and Search Operations (CASO), abandoned in 2002 due to public outcry of human rights violations, were also started.