Around 450 militants operating in J&K: Army commander
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Around 450 militants operating in J&K: Army commander

Army on Thursday said around 450 militants were operating across Jammu and Kashmir and accused Pakistan of continuing to push armed fighters across the Line of Control.

Army on Thursday said around 450 militants were operating across Jammu and Kashmir and accused Pakistan of continuing to push armed fighters across the Line of Control.

"There are around 450 militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir," commander of the army's Northern Command, lieutenant general Ranbir Singh told reporters.

 "The number of militants is more on the north of Pir Panjal. Around 350 to 400 militants are active in the Kashmir valley. On the south of Pir Panjal (the Jammu region), there are 50 militants."

 The army commander said most of the militants on the south of Pir Panjal were dormant.

 "It is sad that the militant infrastructure in PaK (Pakistan-administered Kashmir) is still intact. The Pakistan Army, in its bid to support infiltration of militants from across the border, carries out ceasefire violations and certain tactical activities along the LoC," the top army commander said, adding that 16 militants training camps were operating across the LoC.

 "They are being trained and then brought to the LoC. Then they infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir. We are keeping these (activities) under surveillance."

 Singh also said last year 191 youngsters had joined militant groups in the Kashmir valley, but there was a relative decline in that trend over the last few months.

"Most of the recruitments took place up to the month of August. There was a relative decline in the number of youngsters joining militancy from October till now," Singh said.

 He added that there were concerted efforts on the part of the Army to reach out to the youngsters and their parents and teachers to discourage them joining any outfits propagating militancy.

Dismissing the militant movement was indigenous, Lt Gen Singh claimed that out of the 836 militants killed during the last five years, 490 were "Pakistani or foreign militants".

Lieutenant general Ranbir Singh said the fight against militancy had entered an crucial phase. 

"The fight against militancy has now entered an important phase and I can proudly say that the nation owes this transformation to all our gallant soldiers including paramilitary forces and J&K Police, who have shed a great deal of sweat and blood to herald this challenge," the Army Commander said during his address at Northern Command's investiture ceremony here.

The GOC-in-C said Jammu and Kashmir was passing through a progressive yet a very challenging phase.

 He said that since the country's independence the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the Army have together braved a number of difficult situations and have always emerged victorious.

 The army commander said, "it pains us when we see the youth being misled towards a path of mindless violence."

 Lt Gen Singh said army had achieved a moral ascendance over the adversary along the Line of Control, referring to Pakistan. 

"On hinterland, security forces conducted successful operations, whose credit goes to people of Kashmir, who support forces for better future," he added.

Responding to former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's demand of action against soldiers who allegedly assaulted a Kashmir army soldier, Singh said operations are conducted in a professional manner. 

 "Everybody has given views on various incidents. On the statement you indicated (Mehbooba Mufti's), the governor also made a statement which is different to that but the only thing I will assure is that army conducts its operations in most professional manner," Singh said.

Singh said the soldiers do not leave any scope of mistake.

"There are dos and dont's for every soldier. If anything goes wrong, we will investigate and clear action accordingly," Singh said, admitting soldiers were questioned in connection with soldier Aurangzeb's killing by suspected militants.

"We had questioned 2-3 soldiers, who intentionally or unintentionally shared the information about movement of Aurangzeb, which militants used to kill him," Singh said.

"The investigation is on and details have been shared with police also."

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