‘Youth joining militancy a matter of concern’

Pak continues anti-India activities in J&K: Lt Gen Ranbir Singh | Says won’t allow militancy to revive in ‘peace zones’
‘Youth joining militancy a matter of concern’
Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, addresses media on the sidelines of a scholarship distribution function at Udhampur on Monday. Photo - Mir Imran/GK

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 intelligenceagencies come regarding the presence of militants in south of PirPanjalcomprising Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri and some areas of Reasidistrict, "we take immediate action."

"For the last six month, we have not received any crediblereport about presence of any militant in the region. Yet we keep a close checkon the area," Lt Gen Singh told the reporters on the sidelines of a functionorganised by the Army, where he distributed educational scholarship worth Rs1.45 crore among the 71 selected students from the state.

 "No area which wasdeclared militancy-free and where people start enjoying dividends of peacewould be allowed to slip back into any kind of militancy," he asserted.

The army commander said the members of Villages DefenceCommittees (VDCs) act like "eyes and ears" of the security forces in thehinterland.

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

"They (VDCs) are trained to pass on information regardingmovement of any militant in their respective areas so that security forcescould take required action," Lt Gen Singh said.

Expressing concern over "youth joining militancy", the armycommander 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, thenumber has significantly reduced and as on date there are only 40 youth whohave picked up arms."

He said one of the key reasons for locals picking up gunswas the "radicalization" of youth through social media by Pakistani agencies.

"Pakistan has been continuing with its efforts to show themovement in Jammu and Kashmir as indigenous, but now (it) feels absolutelystarved because of the very effective counter infiltration grid of Indianarmy," he said.

The army commander said the successful infiltration fromacross the LoC "is virtually becoming very difficult" and therefore "tocontinue with this militancy Pakistan wants that local content should beincreased."

He, however, claimed that the trend has been changing inKashmir due to constant efforts by the security forces and their outreachprogrammes.

"We are able to reach parents, elders, teachers in variousvillages so that they can be able to explain the futility of picking up gun tothe youth, and prevail upon their children to get back to the nationalmainstream," Lt Gen Singh said.

PAK'S ANTI-INDIA ACTIVITIES

The army commander said, "Pakistan continues anti-Indiaactivities in Jammu and Kashmir and if the neighbouring country is sincereabout peace it has to dismantle terror infrastructure across border".

"Pakistan continues its anti-India activities by promotingcross border infiltration, ceasefire violation, drug trafficking, narcotics,circulation of fake Indian currency, which are indicative of a proxy waragainst India," the army commander said during the press conference.

 "In case they meanbusiness (peace), they have to dismantle the terror infrastructure, launch-padsand camps which are very close to the LoC," he said.

NEW GENERATION WEAPONRY

"As part of modernization of armed forces, procurement ofnew generation weapons is an ongoing exercise," he said.

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

AIR DEFENCE UNITS ON BORDER

On razing air defence units close to border, the armycommander said, "We have very clearly articulated military strategy. We haveour operational plans for deployment and employment of the all the resourceswhich are available at disposal of armed forces.

"Army air defence is one such resource. It's part of overalldefensive 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 launchedpre-emptive high-precision strikes across terror launch-pads."

ON SURGICAL STRIKES

Replying on a question on surgical strikes, the armycommander reiterated Army's stand saying that the first surgical strike hadtaken place in September 2016.

He said he will not go into what political parties have tosay 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 recentlybeen concluded. It is to the credit of the security forces and stateadministration that we have very peaceful, free and fair elections."

"We are continuing with our efforts to neutralise themilitants with hard specific intelligence inputs. This year we have been ableto neutralise 86 militants so far and our operations to neutralise morecontinue.

LINE OF ACTUAL CONTROL WITH CHINA

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

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

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