'Youth joining militancy a matter of concern'

Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Monday said the army would not allow the “revival of militancy” in any area which has been declared “militancy-free.”

The army commander said whenever reports from intelligence agencies come regarding the presence of militants in south of PirPanjal comprising Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri and some areas of Reasi district, “we take immediate action.”

“For the last six month, we have not received any credible report about presence of any militant in the region. Yet we keep a close check on the area,” Lt Gen Singh told the reporters on the sidelines of a function organised by the Army, where he distributed educational scholarship worth Rs 1.45 crore among the 71 selected students from the state.

 “No area which was declared militancy-free and where people start enjoying dividends of peace would be allowed to slip back into any kind of militancy,” he asserted.

The army commander said the members of Villages Defence Committees (VDCs) act like “eyes and ears” of the security forces in the hinterland.

“The VDCs are very useful instrument available with the state. We make sure that the volunteers who have been provided with weapons for defence of various villages, remain active and energetic,” Lt Gen Singh said.

“They (VDCs) are trained to pass on information regarding movement of any militant in their respective areas so that security forces could take required action,” Lt Gen Singh said.

Expressing concern over “youth joining militancy”, the army commander said, “Local recruitment remains a matter of concern for all of us. Last year, we had 217 local youth who had joined militancy. This year, the number has significantly reduced and as on date there are only 40 youth who have picked up arms.”

He said one of the key reasons for locals picking up guns was the “radicalization” of youth through social media by Pakistani agencies.

“Pakistan has been continuing with its efforts to show the movement in Jammu and Kashmir as indigenous, but now (it) feels absolutely starved because of the very effective counter infiltration grid of Indian army,” he said.

The army commander said the successful infiltration from across the LoC “is virtually becoming very difficult” and therefore “to continue with this militancy Pakistan wants that local content should be increased.”

He, however, claimed that the trend has been changing in Kashmir due to constant efforts by the security forces and their outreach programmes.

“We are able to reach parents, elders, teachers in various villages so that they can be able to explain the futility of picking up gun to the youth, and prevail upon their children to get back to the national mainstream,” Lt Gen Singh said.

PAK’S ANTI-INDIA ACTIVITIES

The army commander said, “Pakistan continues anti-India activities in Jammu and Kashmir and if the neighbouring country is sincere about peace it has to dismantle terror infrastructure across border”.

“Pakistan continues its anti-India activities by promoting cross border infiltration, ceasefire violation, drug trafficking, narcotics, circulation of fake Indian currency, which are indicative of a proxy war against India,” the army commander said during the press conference.

 “In case they mean business (peace), they have to dismantle the terror infrastructure, launch-pads and camps which are very close to the LoC,” he said.

NEW GENERATION WEAPONRY

“As part of modernization of armed forces, procurement of new generation weapons is an ongoing exercise,” he said.

“I would not like to really mention what all new generation weapons and equipment have been brought on LoC or are with army, but I ensure that we are fully prepared and equipped,” he said, adding that whenever “the situation arises” the Indian army shall not be found wanting.

AIR DEFENCE UNITS ON BORDER

On razing air defence units close to border, the army commander said, “We have very clearly articulated military strategy. We have our operational plans for deployment and employment of the all the resources which are available at disposal of armed forces.

“Army air defence is one such resource. It’s part of overall defensive or offensive operational plan of Indian army.”

BALAKOT AIR STRIKES

Lt Gen Singh said that airstrikes by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Jaish-e-Mohammed’s infrastructure in Balakot was a major achievement.

“Indian aircraft went deep into enemy territory and launched pre-emptive high-precision strikes across terror launch-pads.”

ON SURGICAL STRIKES

Replying on a question on surgical strikes, the army commander reiterated Army’s stand saying that the first surgical strike had taken place in September 2016.

He said he will not go into what political parties have to say about it. “However, whatever I mentioned is a statement of fact”.

SECURITY SITUATION IN HINTERLAND

Lt Gen Singh said, “The elections in the state have recently been concluded. It is to the credit of the security forces and state administration that we have very peaceful, free and fair elections.”

“We are continuing with our efforts to neutralise the militants with hard specific intelligence inputs. This year we have been able to neutralise 86 militants so far and our operations to neutralise more continue.

LINE OF ACTUAL CONTROL WITH CHINA

“We have Line of Actual Control with China where we have been able to maintain peace and tranquillity,” he said.

He said if any “transgressions or face-offs take place, the established mechanisms do take care of that for the overall peace and tranquillity.”