Kashmir situation stable but sensitive: GOC 15 Corps

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General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Lt General B S Raju on Sunday said the situation in Kashmir Valley was “stable but sensitive.”

“The adversary’s principal strategy is to instigate violence to cause loss of life and property, which starts a cycle of violence and casualties,” General Raju told Greater Kashmir, in an exclusive interview. “In J&K, the strategy of the security forces is to carryout operations based on specific intelligence in a manner to ensure minimum use of force and avoid collateral damage.”

He said attempts to infiltrate militants were being made regularly from across the Line of Control (LoC) and there were attempts to carry out “militant acts and create an environment of fear in the Valley.”

“We are looking at both the threats and they are being dealt effectively,” General Raju said.

He said social media was being used to “propagate radical and false narratives” in J&K.

“The effort is both at local and international level. The aim of this propaganda is to instigate violence and instability in J&K,” he said. “I am sure the people see through this. We have to guard against this threat and in this battle every citizen is a soldier. We have to be united to work against the efforts aiming to radicalize and misguide our future generations.”

The senior army General said infiltration was taking place for more than 30 years. “All the militant camps and launch pads across (the LoC) are occupied and functional,” he said, adding they were desperate to push the militants into J&K.

General Rahu said attempts were being made to push militant from across the LoC from both sides of PirPanjal range.

“This also explains the increase in CFVs (ceasefire violations,” he said, adding the security forces have foiled numerous infiltration attempts even as they (Pakistan) are constantly resorting to ceasefire violations to support the infiltration of the militants.

“Our response to ceasefire violations has been swift, hard and punishing,” General Raju said”

He said an effective counter infiltration grid was in place. “We are using physical multi-layered deployment and technology to detect the infiltration attempts and prevent them by ensuring swift action,” he said.

The senior army official said despite tough terrain, the soldiers were standing tall and alert, to counter all threats.

“Our soldiers along the LoC are well equipped with the latest weapons, gear and technology to accomplish their task in the most befitting manner. In addition, specialist equipment as required by them due to terrain and weather are being identified and procured to keep a technological edge over Pakistani soldier,” General Raju said.

He said there were “pockets of turbulence” in south Kashmir and security forces were focusing on them. “Last few weeks have been busy with focused intelligence-based operations. The relentless operations have kept the militants on the run,” he said.

The General said over the past year, leadership of all militant organizations has been “effectively targeted and eliminated.” “There is now a definite leadership void. The number of militants presently operating in the Valley has also greatly reduced owing to the reduced recruitment and recent successes in the operations,” he said.

The GoC said they were closely watching the situation in Afghanistan. “The peace deal is a work in progress. We are aware of the public announcements and some Pakistan based propaganda to depict that there will be a shift in focus of Afghanistan-based militants towards Kashmir,” he said. “Afghanistan is not the same Afghanistan of 90s and we expect it to take longer to be clear of what is happening in Afghanistan. The Line of Control is not the same as 90s. We are prepared in a better way.”

Responding to a question about new “surrender policy”, General Raju said they were focused on encouraging militants to surrender. “We have given our recommendations to the government. I am sure the government while framing any such policy will ensure it is holistic and encourages surrender,” he said.

About the reports of excesses by security forces in Kashmir, the top army commander said the army has a very “strict moral and ethical code, and every soldier is duty bound to it.”

“I would like to clarify that all such complaints lodged are thoroughly investigated and all those found guilty have been awarded punishments as applicable,” he said. “The social media is being extensively used by inimical elements to spread fake news about such excesses, but let me assure you that the army conducts its operations under a stringent code of conduct.”