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Pulwama Aftermath: Governor asks forces to follow SOP, ‘avoid’ civilian casualties.

Three days after government forces killed at least seven civilians in southern Pulwama district, governor Satya Pal Malik Tuesday directed security agencies operating in the Valley to “adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to avoid incidents of civilian casualties and collateral damages.”

Chairing a high-level security review meeting at the army’s northern command headquarters in Udhampur, the governor, according to an official spokesman, “reiterated the vital importance of laid down SOPs being adhered to by the army and all security forces to avoid incidents of civilian casualties and collateral damages”.

“The governor re-emphasised the crucial importance of sustained collaborative action between the armed forces and the Jammu and Kashmir police with the civil administration in dealing with difficult situations, particularly to ensure against the loss of civilian lives,” the spokesman said.

The governor’s directions come amid massive public outrage over the killing of seven civilians, including a teenager and an MBA graduate, by forces in Pulwama’s Sirnoo village following a gunfight in the area on Saturday in which three Hizbul Mujahideen militants and an army soldier were also killed. The killings drew widespread condemnation and triggered a three-day shutdown call by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik.

During the Tuesday’s meeting, the governor reviewed the latest security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir including details of the counter-infiltration and counter-militancy operations undertaken recently, the spokesman said.

Senior officers of the police, army, central police forces, and central intelligence agencies participated in the deliberations, he said.

The governor stressed the need of a “heightened vigil and ensuring the safety of protected persons and the security of all important establishments and installations”.“He lauded the role played by the security forces in the incident-free conduct of polls to the urban local bodies and panchayats,” the spokesman said.

The meeting was attended by governor’s advisor K Vijay Kumar; northern army commander lieutenant general Ranbir Singh; chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam; director general of police Dilbag Singh; GoC of army’s 15 corps lieutenant general AK Bhatt; GoC of 16 corps lieutenant general Paramjit Singh; GoC of 9 corps lieutenant general YVK Mohan; governor’s principal secretary Umang Narula; principal secretary Home, RK Goyal; ADGP (CID) Dr B Srinivas; ADGP (security/law and order) Muneer Khan; IG CRPF AV Chouhan; IG BSF Kashmir Abhinav Kumar; divisional commissioner Jammu Sanjeev Verma; and IGP Jammu, SDS Jamwal.

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