Srinagar/New Delhi: The stone-pelting crowd in the Valley continues to shield terrorists and stand as a wall against security forces.  When the Army on Monday cornered the top commander of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Abdul Rasheed Ghazi and other terrorists, local youths hurled stones on the soldiers. 

The security forces pleaded with them to return home as the encounter was still going on — to no avail.

In an overnight encounter, security forces on Monday had tracked down two wanted terrorists of JeM in the Pinglan area of southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district. After the exchange of fire, terrorists took shelter in a residential area. Troops of 55 Rashtriya Rifles and Jammu and Kashmir Police then began a combing operation.

As soon as the crowd got to know that Pulwama attack mastermind was trapped in a house and forces are looking for him, they gathered and started throwing stones at the security personnel. They were clearly trying to stop the forces in carrying out search operations and buy more time for Ghazi to escape.

The soldiers and cops requested the mob not to create hurdles during the search operation and return home as their parents are waiting for them.

Despite knowing that Ghazi is the man who was behind killing over 40 CRPF personnel, radicalised youths covered their faces and kept pelting stones.

During the encounter, the Indian armed forces lost Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, Havaldar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Ajay Kumar and Sepoy Hari Singh.

This is not the first time that the security forces have encountered hostile mobs during critical operations. The resistance from stone-pelting in the past has helped many a terrorist escape.

According to a senior officer in the Valley, the stone throwers are not innocent but radicalised and hired by Pakistan-backed terrorists as a shield. Separatist leaders in Kashmir do Pakistan’s job of fuelling anger among the locals.