Taking additional precautions, the authorities have started putting up banners at encounter spots asking civilians not to enter until the area is sanitised by the security forces. The step has been taken following the death of six civilians when a shell exploded after a recent encounter between security forces and terrorists in Kulgam area of South Kashmir.
These civilians had reportedly rushed to the spot soon after the encounter ended with the killing of three terrorists and died when an unexploded shell lying there went off.
Putting up banners in Urdu and English advising civilians not to enter encounter sites has become another exercise for the security forces as a large number of residents of adjoining areas rush to the spot during encounters. They generally rush to fetch bodies of the slain terrorists even before the area is sanitised and declared safe for movement of people.
Top brass of the Army and police has appealed to civilians not to enter the encounter spots until they are sanitised.
Stone-pelters also assemble at the encounter spots although the respective district magistrates have already announced that curfew shall be deemed to have been imposed wherever an encounter breaks out.
Unfortunately, leaders of various Kashmir-centric political parties instead of asking miscreants not to hamper operations against terrorists have been criticising the security forces that are taking precautions to avoid collateral damage.
Pakistan-backed separatists are exploiting the situation and inciting the youth by glorifying terrorists and issuing provocative statements against India and the security forces.
Their shutdown calendars have returned as the security forces have regained domination in the terrorism-hit areas of South Kashmir where the operations had suffered a setback due to the month-long ceasefire that was announced by the government during Ramzan.
Almost every second day a shutdown call is given by separatists against the killing of terrorists. This has broken the back of small traders and those connected with tourism. The separatists were virtually sidelined till mid-2016 when a local terrorist leader Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter.
Thereafter, the top separatists, Syed Alishah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, gained strength as they started issuing lengthy shutdown calendars during the unrest that continued for a few months.