Srinagar, June 25: General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Lt Gen D P Pandey, on Friday said that there was a decrease in the number of foreign militants in Kashmir and “now attempts are being made to project the Kashmir situation as indigenous freedom struggle.”
“For last over three years Pakistani militants have been directed to keep low and work as advisors,” GOC 15 Corps told newsmen after a passing out parade at JAKLI Regimental Centre here. “When a foreign militant is not killed the complicity of our neighbouring country is seen less. They are under pressure from Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and others.”
The senior Army General said that killing of a militant during encounters is used to fuel anti-national sentiments. “When you kill a Kashmiri youth who has been a terrorist for five-six months, a family is established against our country, it becomes unhappy. So, then (it involves) his extended family, his friends, the village. This is their (Pakistan) strategy. They coordinate in the background, they motivate a young child, radicalise him, hand him guns without any training, push him forward and when he is killed, things follow.”
“It is their strategy to show it (militancy) as an indigenous movement where the whole effort is local. When they kill someone, a message comes within half-an-hour that this is a local Kashmiri freedom struggle," he added. “Only two foreign militants were killed in Kashmir this year.”
GOC 15 Corps said that the counter-infiltration grid has been very strong for the last few years. “There has been very much control on infiltration and the security situation in Kashmir of the last few years cannot be compared with that of the last two to three decades,” he said.
He said that there are many things related to improvement in the security situation that included abrogation of (Article) 370 and development. He said that an important aspect is the presence of foreign militants in Kashmir. “One should not see everything from the prism of militant numbers.”
Lt Gen Pandey said that some people from Kashmiri diaspora, sitting in foreign countries, want the youth here to pick guns. “They incite poison and get money. The youth - who have problems in their homes, their education, their debts, are poor and illiterate - are getting killed,” he said adding that until the civil society in Kashmir understands it, stops it and exposes them, this cycle will continue.
Replying to a query about the improvement in situation and subsequent withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, he said that there is a need for the security forces to ensure that the people feel safe and secure.
He dismissed opinions that involvement in counter-insurgency operations was compromising the Army’s operational capabilities in conventional warfare. “The Indian Army’s training and focus is always on conventional training. CI/CT operations is our number two task. We are here in a supporting role. The J-K police and the civil administration work and when they need us, they call us and we operate there,” he stressed.
About reports of artillery moved towards eastern border (LAC), he said it is a normal turnover process. We know all activities of China on LAC and the move is to balance such things and we are working on that.
About recent political engagements, he said both are two different things and they cannot be clubbed together. Political process and dialogue is part of democratic political process which is going between centre and UT administration,” he said. “Security situation is tackled at a different level.”