Stating that youth are being still “instigated” into militancy, Lieutenant General BS Raju, General officer in Command (GoC), 15 Corps, on Sunday said that presently Army is working with the Government for a “suitable surrender policy”.
Stating that the present strength of militants in Kashmir is the lowest in the last decade and militant recruitment in 2020 was “fairly in control”, the GoC appealed to the youth who have gone “astray” to come back.
“My main message to youth – is you can get back and we will take care of you. This is a message we have consistently given to all stakeholders, whether it is militants, the parents, and the community,” he said in an interview uploaded on the twitter handle of Chinar Corps. “Army has demonstrated the same on the ground too. “
He said that in the last six months, 17 of those who had “strayed” have come back and the Army will take their care.
“Presently we are working with the Government for a suitable surrender policy. My appeal to the youth who have gone astray is to come back. They can get back anytime, including during operations. They can call anybody, their parents, our helpline and we will organize their return,” he said. “Youth are still being instigated from across the border to militancy.”
“Militant recruitment in 2020 was fairly in control, especially when compared to 2018. The present strength of militants in Kashmir is 217 which is lowest in the last decade,” Lt Gen Raju said.
“Pakistan remains the key instigator to push youth towards militancy by various means. It has attracted many youths for studies. But along the way, a few have been indoctrinated. Some of them have (been) trained and sent back through the Line of Control (LoC) as part of infiltrating columns as well as through the international border. Militants from Pakistan target our security forces and civilians within Kashmir in crowded areas. They expect us to react and cause more civilian casualties. They then use this as propaganda to tarnish our image and then go for reacting,” he said.
Accusing Pakistan of using social media to spread misinformation and attract new recruits, Lt Gen Raju said that “militants encourage overground workers to throw grenades or fire pistols at low-value targets and also initiate them into militant ranks but people are aware of Pakistan’s design”.
He also hit out at Pakistan for using ceasefire violations to help the militants infiltrate in Kashmir.
The top Army General said that Army has been able to reduced infiltration by over 70 per cent. “On the LoC, we remain in full control and are prepared for all contingencies,” he said, adding that the technology and techniques are constantly being upgraded at 15 Corps to prevent infiltration. “To begin with, we reworked our deployments with some analysis on the tech front. There is a huge infusion of equipment for surveillance, for detection and subsequently for neutralization. Our ability to detect and neutralize at night has also improved and that’s how we have a number of successful contacts at night,” he said.
Lt Gen Raju said that they are conscious that “people are the centre of gravity” and within that the youth remain their focus. “In fact, our company operating base is enmeshed completely with locals of villages and towns.”
“Often the Company Commander is the first responder to any emergency, be it fire, an accident, or a drowning case,” he said.