Srinagar: Clashes broke out outside iconic Jama Masjid in Srinagar after Friday prayers. Many protestors waved Pakistani flag while protesting against Army chief Bipin Rawat’s warning to those who obstruct Army operations. According to reports, the protestors pelted stones on security personnel. Also Read - Situation Along LAC in Eastern Ladakh Remains Tense, Says Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat

Army chief Bipin Rawat had said that the young people who had been obstructing the forces during encounters against militants would be dealt with strictly. Also Read - Ladakh Standoff: Indian Armed Forces Capable of Giving Befitting Reply, CDS Bipin Rawat at Defence Panel Meet

“We would now tell 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 for them. They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue,” he had said. (Also read: Centre attacks Congress, says Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s Kashmir remark a concern, not warning) Also Read - ‘Capable of Handling Chinese Aggression’: CDS Bipin Rawat Says India Wants Peace Across Borders

The comments had come on a day when he paid his last respects to three soldiers martyred in Kashmir on Tuesday in two separate operations. He had said that if they didn’t relent and create hurdle in operations, tough action would be taken against them.

Meanwhile, the comments have resulted in a war of words between political parties. The ruling BJP came out in support of the Army chief, saying he has only advised youngsters to keep away from stone pelting. Independent MLA Engineer Rasheed said that the Army chief’s warning was a confession that militants had mass support. National Conference leader Dr Sheikh Mustafa Kamal said that the statement was a moral victory for the militants.  JKLF Chief Yasin Malik entered a heated exchange with BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra on a television debate.

The BJP and the Congress also engaged in a verbal exchange. MoS PMO Jitendra Singh urged the Congress to not indulge in politics in this issue.

“We appeal to the political sections and the Congress to not indulge in any kind of politicking at the cost of security forces’ morale,” said MoS PMO Jitendra Singh.

“Army Chief’s remark showed worry and not warning. It was an appeal that you shouldn’t come towards the line of firing, but the Congress is showing it otherwise,” he added.

The Congress replied swiftly as spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wrote on Twitter : “DrJitendraSingh-Pl tell (sic)  if morale of Jawans isn’t effected as MPBJP members are caught teaming with the ISI & running a racket to spy onArmy.”