Terror infrastructure in Pakistan is “existing and active”,according to Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor,who puts the number of terror camps there in between 30 and 50.
Pakistan seeks to convey an impression that it is taking action against terrorists and their infrastructure but the infrastructure was still active,said Kapoor.
The number of camps “on the other side” can “safely” be placed between 30 and 50,he said,adding that there had been a significant increase in such camps from 32 in 2005 to 53 last year.
Kapoor,who has served as chief of the Northern Command which include Jammu and Kashmir,said by and large most of these camps are located parallel along the Line of Control (LoC) and between 10 and 50 km away from the LoC. The numbers of these camps have been varying at times.
“I would rather put it that the infrastructure is active. Yes I would put it that way. I would not talk about the numbers specifically right now because of the fact that some of these are closed. But infrastructure is existing and active.”
Kapoor said there were some other camps which were not located along the LoC but possibly in certain other areas either in Punjab or even westwards of that.
“So that is from where you find that some of these people who may have either gone from this side,who have may have infiltrated or those who are in the name of jihad asked to come as volunteers and join these gangs,trained there and thereafter an attempt is made to induct them,” he said.
At times,Kapoor said,that policy has been varying. “At times it is actively supported by the establishment,it happens with their total connivance. When they claim it is not actively supported,it may happen with covert connivance.” He said sometimes they would look at crossing the LoC in the worst kind of weather and most difficult terrain where the chances of being able to infiltrate through may be better.
Or at times the forces which are on their side can use the tactic of starting some kind of a firing in which people from the Indian forces get involved in retaliatory fire and possibly in that period of time and diversion when the patrolling level goes down they have the methodology to push through,he said.
The army chief expressed concern over the new routes being taken by the infiltrators to come to Jammu and Kashmir,may be through Nepal and Bangladesh.
Asked whether the terror camps have been closed after the Mumbai attacks,Kapoor said “it is too difficult to say. It is too short a time-frame. This kind of information takes time to build up.”
He said post the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai the camps that are in Pir Panjal areas in the valley were dormant because the passes were closed because of snow.
“Infiltration is just not feasible. Therefore,those camps lie dormant. They may still be there. But we cannot still get any definitive information till we start catching people who come from those camps. South of Pir Panjal the camps have been active. You are aware of the case of Mendhar where the army could not catch hold of anyone. But they have been used. So invariably you find by November-end and till February-March you will find that south of Pir Panjal is much more active.”
Kapoor said the routes they may use may be Rajouri and Poonch and go into Doda side or the valley. “But what is of greater concern to me exactly is that more than this portion,in an entire year much larger numbers seem to be coming in from other routes in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Asked whether it was through Nepal,he said the forces had caught as many as 52 people who have come from the Himalayan country and some of the illegal migrants were Bangladeshis.
“So while we are able to check this number,it is almost ready to be as much and that is a matter of concern. Because we have a free and open border there is movement and we have caught people who have come by the Nepal route and Kathmandu and thereafter they can travel like any other normal person without being checked,” Kapoor said.
“Because the border is open they come through and come to Gorakhpur or some place and catch a train and travel to Jammu,” he said.
On checking infiltration,Kapoor said last year was a tremendous success story. In 2006,the figure was something like 343 which was a count that was arrived at after discussions with all the agencies like military Intelligence,CID and state police.
In 2007,the figure got down to 311 and last year it was somewhere in the region of 70. “And that is the kind of check of infiltration. I am talking of the success on the infiltration front. After all,the ground is difficult. The terrain is such that you cannot guard each and every metre or yard of that. So there may be people who have been trying to come through. The number of counter-infiltration measures has resulted in the number coming down from 311 in 2007 to 60 or 70 in 2008,” the army chief said.
About the situation in Jammu and Kashmir,the army chief said recently surgical operations by the security forces had resulted in eliminating over 300 hardcore terrorists during 2008.
“This is over and above many more being neutralised by the army while foiling infiltration bids. The terrorist initiated violence levels are at an all-time low. However,there are still about 700 to 800 terrorists active in the state,of which,over 40-45 per cent are foreign nationals,” he said.
He said since the terrorist infrastructure across the LoC continued to thrive the security forces could not afford to lower their guard.
“Accordingly,the security forces will continue to maintain operational dominance through sustained surgical and people-friendly operations,” Kapoor said.