Chief of Army Staff Gen Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday that people who obstruct operations during encounters will be treated as overground workers of terrorists.
Rawat's statement came a day after four army personnel, including a major, were killed during two separate encounters in Kashmir.
Rawat's statement also reflected growing anger within the army against civilians who provide 'support' to terrorists in the militancy-hit region.
"Those who obstruct our operations during encounters and are not supportive will be treated as overground workers of terrorists," ANI quoted Rawat as saying.
Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the army had issued an advisory to the people asking them to stay away from encounter sites to ensure smooth counter-insurgency operations.
The security forces have to tackle jeering local Kashmiris who also throw stones at them during encounter with militants. In some cases, they even try to rescue trapped militants by attacking forces.
Rawat also lashed out at protesters who display Pakistani or Islamic State flags.
"If locals who want to continue with terror by displaying flags of ISIS and Pakistan, we'll treat them as anti-nationals and will not spare them,” Rawat said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rawat paid tribute to the martyred security personnel at Palam airport.