Government to take final call on AFSPA: Army Chief
‘India Must Continue To Hold On To Siachen’
New Delhi, Sep 19: The Army has given its perception on the partial removal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Jammu and Kashmir while maintaining that a final call will have to be taken by the Government.
Interacting with media-persons here on Wednesday, Army chief General Bikram Singh said that it is a sensitive matter as the issue is related to internal security in the Valley and violence parameters. “We have given our assessment to the Government. It is up to them now to decide,” he said.
Significantly, he confirmed the presence of Chinese soldiers in Pakistan administered Kashmir to provide security to the country’s ongoing infrastructural projects in the region. “We are told that Chinese soldiers are there to provide protection to their ongoing projects related to their railways, road and hydro-electric projects and it is basically for security purposes,” he said.
Responding to a query on the Army’s preparedness on Indo-Sino border to prevent repeat of 1962, he said that the armed forces were fully prepared.
“Such an event will not be repeated as the country's forces have got plans in place to protect the territorial integrity of the nation. No. It will not be repeated. I am assuring the nation as Chief of the Army Staff that 1962 will not be repeated. No way. Country's borders are well protected and the Army will not allow the enemy to cross it. 1962 will not be repeated,” he said.
On presence of Chinese troops in PaK, he said, “We have already conveyed this to the Government and whatever is there, we have our frontiers guarded well,” he further said when asked if it was a matter of concern for the force.
He said his mandate was “to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country”. “That’s the assurance I am giving. We will not let any enemy enter our territory. Plans are afoot on all borders,” he said.
“Our preparations are going on adequately,” he said. “The capacity of our forces is built not keeping in view any specific country in mind. We are doing it for building our defenses keeping our own national security,” he said.
Against the backdrop of Pakistani push for demilitarization of Siachen, the Army chief made it clear that the Indian military would not like to move out of the "strategically important" icy heights for which a "lot of blood has been shed".
He said the Army has conveyed its views to the Government which has to take a final decision in this regard.
"It is very important and we must continue to hold that area and we have held that view always.... We have lost our lives and lot of blood has been shed to get into these areas and occupy the heights and positions.
"These positions are of strategic importance and we have given our concerns to the Government and now it is for the Government to decide," Gen Singh said.
He was responding to a query on India's stand on the Siachen issue.
Pakistan has been pushing for demilitarization of Siachen but India has maintained that this cannot take place without proper authentication by both sides of the present troop positions on the Glacier.
Asked if the Army believed that the Glacier has to be held under control then why the talks were being held, he said, "The negotiations are at government level and at the national level. Let us see how these negotiations progress but we have given our point of view."
Gen Singh said the Army has not changed its views on the importance of the strategic heights which have been under Indian physical control since 1984 after the Army launched Operation Meghdoot to occupy them.
Asked how much flexible India was willing to be on the issue, he said it was discussed during the 13th round of Defence Secretary-level talks held in Islamabad.
"This is one of the issues supposed to have been discussed and it was not concluded at that point of time and I think it will carry forward. I think modalities have to be worked out during the dialogue to be held next year."
Pakistan Army Chief Gen Parvez Kiyani had recently made another pitch for the demilitarization of the Glacier after losing over 100 soldiers in Gyari there in an avalanche.
SUMIT BHARGAV ADDS FROM RAJOURI:
Meanwhile Army’s Northern Command Chief Lt Gen K T Parnaik also echoed similar views at a function in Nowshehra in the border district of Rajouri.
“AFSPA revocation and implementation is an issue between State and Central Government. It is the government which has to decide the course of action over the issue", Lt Gen Parnaik told reporters on the sidelines of an army Mela at Nowshera today.
He added that army will act in accordance with the instructions and directions from the government on the issue.
ON SINO-INDIAN BORDER
Admitting there is cross-border movement of civilians along Sino-Indian border in Ladakh sector, Parnaik maintained there is "no security risk" along the border.
"I would say that there is no security risk along Line of Actual Control (LAC) (along Sino-Indian border in Ladakh sector) as I see it today", he said.
He was replying to a volley of questions about incursion, transgression and cross-border movements of people and China's alleged interference along Sino-Indian border in Ladakh sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
"Let me first say that transgression along Eastern Ladakh border--Dumchok area--there have been cross movements in areas of differing perception there (LAC in Ladakh)--especially towards south Dumchok side-- Chumor and Chusar areas".
He said that "last to last month, we had an incident there-- three to four Chinese dressed in local attire were seen in our area. They were wandering there thinking that it was their area".
"We had to confront them-- show them the manner and asked them to leave-- which they did with a little protest", the Army commander said adding "this issue was discussed in the border personnel contact meeting (with Chinese troops). We had made it clear to Chinese that they should ensure that they do not violate the tranquility and peace".
Lt Gen Parnaik said "these incidents are taking place between civilians who are in areas located close to LAC and may be those who are across in Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) area".
"Army is not deployed everywhere--sometimes these events get exaggerated....There is cross-border movement of civilians also and they indulge in smuggling", he said.
He said the army is taking necessary action as per the situation. "We have already cautioned our people on the borders not to cross the line of perception", he added.
"Today, we have peaceful border with China, which is not the case with regard to Pakistan. Peace and tranquility prevail along the border line", he said.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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