India’s top military commander in Held Kashmir on Tuesday told mothers to get their sons to surrender or see them dead, as security forces intensified a crackdown in the region after a suicide bomber killed 40 paramilitary police. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, facing a general election by May, has come under domestic pressure to exact revenge, and has said he has given a free hand to security forces to administer a ‘strong response’. The Indian commander in the occupied valley, Lieutenant-General KJS Dhillon accused Pakistan’s main Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of ‘controlling’ the deadliest attack on security forces in three decades of fighting in the Muslim-majority region. “I would request all the mothers in Kashmir to please request their sons who have joined fighting to surrender and get back to the mainstream,” Dhillon told reporters in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir state. “Otherwise anyone who has picked up the gun will be killed.” The bomb attack was carried out by a 20-year-old man whose parents said had joined a militant group after being beaten by Indian troops three years ago. India has long blamed Pakistan for the nearly 30-year revolt in Jammu and Kashmir, its only Muslim-majority state. Pakistan says it only provides moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for self-determination. Indian forces on Monday killed three Kashmiri fighters, including the suspected organiser of the bombing, in a 17-hour military operation in which five troops and a civilian were also killed. Dhillon claimed one of the fighters killed on Monday was from Indian-held Kashmir while the other two were from Pakistan. “It was being controlled from across by ISI and Pakistan and JeM commanders,” Dhillon said of the bomb attack. Dhillon did not provide any proof for his accusation and said he could not be more specific about the investigation into the blast and the suspected role of the Pakistan military intelligence agency, except to note its close links with the JeM. Published in Daily Times, February 20th 2019.