Army Chief General Bikram Singh has reiterated the position of the armed forces that the Siachen glacier is of strategic importance to India and it is vital to hold on to current troop positions on the icy battlefield.
In his first comments on the issue after taking over as the Army Chief in May,Gen Singh on Wednesday said a lot of blood has been shed to gain advantage on the glacier and that the Army has given its views on any move to demilitarise the region to the government.
It is important we must continue to hold that area and we have always held that view. We lost lot of lives and a lot of blood has been shed to get into these areas and occupy the heights and positions… these positions are of strategic importance, Gen Singh said in his first formal media interaction since taking over.
He was responding to questions on the Armys views on recent initiatives to demilitarise the area. Gen Singh,however,made it clear that the Army is not part of the negotiations. The negotiations are at government level and at the national level. Let us see,how these negotiations progress, he said.
Taking on multiple questions,Gen Singh said Chinese soldiers continue to be present in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. The Chinese soldiers are there to provide protection to their ongoing projects related to railways,road and hydro-electricity. It is basically for security purposes, he said.
On whether the Army was prepared to deal with a 1962 like situation when the Chinese Army overwhelmed Indian forces along the borders in Ladakh and the Northeast,Gen Singh said that there is no question of a repeat as the nations borders are well guarded.
No. It will not be repeated. I am assuring the nation as the Chief of the Army Staff that 1962 will not be repeated. No way. The nations borders are well protected and the Army will not allow the enemy to cross it, he said.
Meanwhile,Gen Singh attributed the deficiency of over 10,000 officers in the force as one of the main causes behind the increased friction between officers and jawans. He described three recent clashes as aberrations.