'Ceasefire agreement a step in right direction'

Stating that the security grid along the Line of Control (LoC) and in the hinterland had been established, the Army Friday said that the ceasefire agreement with Pakistan was a very positive step in the right direction.

Interacting with a selected group of journalists at the Army’s Sharifabad headquarters in Budgam district, General Officer Commanding (GOC) Kilo Force, Major General H S Sahi said, “It (ceasefire agreement) is indeed a very positive step, a step in the right direction but we have to approach it with very cautious optimism.”

Major Gen Sahi looks after anti-militancy operations across northern Kashmir.

The senior Army officer said that they want the ceasefire agreement to be implemented in letter and spirit.

“We would like it to happen the way the understanding has been reached,” he said. “These things were worked in the past also, but because of certain elements and powers at play could not be taken to a logical conclusion.”

Major Gen Sahi said that if implemented by both the sides, this would be a way forward.

“So, it is a very proactive step,” he said. “All activities like infiltration or arms being sent from across the border must stop in case the ceasefire agreement has to be implemented earnestly.”

Major Gen Sahi said that they were optimistic that this step would lead to some more negotiations.

“We hope that whatever will happen will further lead to some negotiations at various levels so that we take it forward and do not repeat what they have been doing all along for the last many years,” he said. “When there is a semblance of peace on the LoC, other steps will follow.”

Major Gen Sahi said that the snow levels were not very high this year, but the forces were aware and the security grid on the LoC and the hinterland had been established accordingly.

“Our establishment of the security grid – the infiltration grid on the LoC, and the grid there after in the immediate hinterland has been calibrated and we are prepared,” he said. “We have started moving up to forward areas to carry out reconnaissance and also to see for ourselves which are the areas which we can move to immediately.”

Major Gen Sahi said that the counter-infiltration grid was absolutely intact.

“The ceasefire violations are basically meant to assist the militants to sneak across. We hope that in the spirit of the understanding of the agreement, it manifests on the ground in the coming days,” he said. “There are reports of some activities at the launch pads, but they are on low scale. On our side, the movement has started towards the reception areas. So far, there are no credible, confirmed inputs, but we are continuously monitoring the situation.”

The GOC Kilo Force said that there were approximately 210-215 militants in Kashmir of which 140 were in south Kashmir and about 60-65 in north Kashmir.

“These are rough estimates. It is a matter of concern, but it does not bother us too much as we have the capability to address all their activities,” he said. “No Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant is active in north Kashmir and most of the militants belong to Lashkar-e-Toiba.”

Major Gen Sahi said sporadic incidents would happen, but the forces were capable of dealing with the militants.

“The forces are geared up for the summer months to face the challenges at both the LoC and the hinterland,” he said.