Stating that ceasefire agreement was a conscious call by India and Pakistan, General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Lt General B S Raju on Monday said that the situation in Kashmir was peaceful and people have lots of hopes from the year 2021.
“I think the situation remains fairly normal in Kashmir. I have no hesitation in saying that all the parameters of violence whether in terms of stone-pelting, agitations or bandhs, everything has seen a very distinct drop,” Lt Gen BS Raju told a select group of senior journalists during an interaction at 15 Corps headquarters here.
Many people, he said, might say that the situation was quiet due to COVID, but it is not that. “It is quiet because people want it to be quiet. If something good is happening, then it is because the people want it to be,” he said. “We have lots of hopes from the year 2021.”
The top Army General said that there are isolated incidents of violence. “There are elements who want to generate violence and they get directions from within and across to attack,” he said adding that there was Krishna Dhaba attack recently. “It was only done to convey a message to the arriving EU delegation that the situation is not peaceful and that things are not normal. It was militancy in a classic manner.”
“The ceasefire agreement is a positive step and a conscious call by both the countries,” he said. “The task at hand is to make it successful.”
“It’s a positive step and has immense potential to bring peace to people in border areas,” he said. “We have had many civilian casualties due to ceasefire violations in Kupwara and Uri. It (ceasefire agreement) will also give us better capacity to check infiltrations.”
Infiltration, the senior Army General said, is still a challenge, but the Army are up to it. “We will try to keep things under control and keep the population safe,” he said. “We hope the situation along the borders remains calm.”
Asked how the Army will deal in case of ceasefire violation, he said that they have an established mechanism both at the local level as well as in Delhi. “Definitely, we will give it a best shot. We will not be trigger happy,” he said. “In case there is some problem, in case there is an incident, we will tell the other side, we will speak to them.”
The ceasefire, he said, has no major implication in the hinterland other than helping check the infiltration. “There are new routes for infiltration of militants and arms. If the desire from the other side is there, it will keep pushing and find new ways,” he said. “But, if they have done this (ceasefire agreement) then we will slowly disincentivize them from doing other things.”
He said that the army has reduced footprints in northern Kashmir. “We have reduced footprints in north Kashmir and it is an ongoing process,” he said. “When the violence goes down, the methodology changes.”
About the reports of seizure of sticky bombs, he said inducting new things here is an ongoing process. “Inducting anything new available is an ongoing process in Kashmir and we will adopt a proper strategy to do our job,” he said.