Northern Army Commander Lt General Ranbir Singh said on Friday that although the situation in Kashmir has considerably improved after the scrapping of special status, it remains fragile due to continued attempts by Pakistan to push in militants.
“Ever since the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A, there has been a significant improvement in all the violence parameters in Jammu and Kashmir… there has been reduction in terrorist-initiated incidents, stone-pelting incidents and there has also been a reduction in protests that were carried out by large number of crowds coming out,’’ he told mediapersons at the opening of a youth festival in Doda district’s Bhaderwah town.
“… but the situation remains fragile because Pakistan continues attempts to push in infiltrators so they can keep Jammu and Kashmir in a state of turmoil,’’ he said, adding, “we are duty-bound, prepared and fully equipped to ensure their designs are not allowed to succeed’’.
Terrorist training camps are still active across the border and Pakistan is trying to provide them all kinds of support, including weapons, he said, adding that the recent air-dropping of weapons in Punjab with the help of drones was a step in that direction. He assured that the Army was competent and fully prepared to foil all such designs.
To a question about infiltration by Afghan militants, he said that though some reports have appeared in the media, there has been no corroboration on the ground. The Army’s multi-tier counter-infiltration mechanism along the Line of Control (LoC) is strong and fully competent to check any sort of infiltration, he said, adding that if any infiltrator succeeds in sneaking in, he would get killed as the Army also has a counter-terrorism grid in the hinterland.
Referring to reports regarding infiltration by terrorists into J&K, the Northern Army Commander said that “as far as our counter-infiltration grid is concerned, we are able to thwart infiltration bids at the LoC itself’’. Pointing out that if infiltrators do not get caught at the first tier, they possibly get trapped in the next tiers.
In response to a question, he said that there were 200-300 militants active in the state. About their number across the LoC, he said that nearly 500 are at training camps and launch pads at any given time, waiting to infiltrate. However, these are approximate figures and keep on changing, depending upon the number of new militants trained and the de-radicalisation of some of them, he said.
Asked whether another surgical strike was needed in view of terror training camps and launch pads, he said a surgical strike is one of the options available. “Which option is to be exercised, at what time, will depend on the situation and the manner in which we would like to keep surprise and we are able to achieve sure-shot success…”
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