New Delhi: People creating hurdles during anti-terror operations and displaying flags of Pakistan and ISIS in Jammu and Kashmir will be dealt as anti-nationals and will face "harsh" actions, Army Chief Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday.
His stern message came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he paid last respects here to the three of the four soldiers including a major who were killed in two separate encounters in Kashmir on Tuesday.
General Rawat said security forces in J&K are facing higher casualties due to manner in which the local population is preventing them in conducting the operations and "at times even supporting the terrorists to escape".
"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.
"They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue," said the Army Chief.
The Prime Minister, in a tweet, said, "Paid tributes to the brave men who lost their lives fighting terrorists in J&K.
India will always remember their valour & sacrifice."
General Rawat said those supporting terror activities are being given an opportunity but if they continue with their acts then security forces will come down hard on them.
"We are giving them an opportunity, should they want to continue to then, we will continue with relentless operations may be with harsher measures and that is the way to continue," he told reporters after laying wreath to the martyrs of Handwara and Bandipora operations.
The Army Chief further said if "they do not relent and create hurdle in our operations, then we will take tough action."
Off late, security forces have faced opposition from local population in certain areas of Kashmir during anti-terror operations.
Three security force personnel were killed in an encounter in Parray Mohalla of Hajin area of Bandipora district yesterday while another armymen lost his life in north Kashmir's Kupwara district.
Four militants were also killed in the operations.