Srinagar: General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the strategic 15 Corps Srinagar Lt Gen Amardeep Singh Aujla said that the infiltration in Kashmir has come down.
“There is no doubt that infiltration has come down. It is because of the efforts of the Army taking the help of latest technology and equipment that has resulted in the downfall. Ceasefire understanding, alertness and surveillance have helped us in this,” he said speaking to Greater Kashmir.
The GOC said that he was concerned to see how non-locals were being targeted in Kashmir.
“These killings project Kashmir in a bad light. Majority of these can be ascribed as criminal activities. Those who do it, get incentives. We don’t want such things to happen here,” he said. “Non-locals are also a part of the Kashmiri fraternity and essential for daily economic activities.”
Lt Gen Aujla said that efforts were on to reduce this kind of violence in Kashmir.
“This is done not by force but through making them understand what’s right and wrong. Since Kashmir has a rich history, we take lessons from our society and our society doesn’t teach us these things whether about killing, drugs, or being anti-national,” he said.
The GOC said that he was happy to see the current security situation between India and Pakistan.
“Everything is normal. Both countries are respecting ethos and ceasefire agreement. It is abided by in letter and spirit. No untoward incidents are taking place. Though smuggling of narco, drugs, arms, and ammunition is a concern,” he said.
About how long the ceasefire would continue, Lt Gen Aujla said, “The endeavour is to uphold it as much as possible but when there is a push from the other side of the border, we must reconsider our decision. If our security is threatened, then we will have to take a call.”
He said that in the hinterland, parameters were showing good signs.
“The challenge is to sustain and give the environment and space to the common population where they can flourish and blossom. We have the confidence of the people,” the GOC said.
About the inconvenience caused to the commuters on the national highways, he said, “Wherever Army is deployed, restrictions have been removed, unless, it is very essential for a small duration which may be due to security reasons. In fact, the Army has now stopped halting the vehicles for frisking for the convenience of the general masses.”
About the white-collar terrorism, Lt Gen Aujla said, “There are two types of terrorists - one is who picks up the arms and another is who supports him. Both are terrorists for us and are deadly and venomous. They are radicalised. They are those who have failed to fulfill their aspirations and fall prey to radical elements. Furthermore, narco network is also supporting terrorism.”
He said that the Army had been helping the drug addicts or victims in many ways.
“We guide them, hold medical camps, and direct them on what is right and wrong. Many parents and people approach us in this regard and seek our help as they complain that their children are going in the wrong direction. We also organise programmes for those who are likely to join terror outfits and fall prey to drugs. We do their rehabilitation,” the GOC said.
“We are here for the good of Kashmiri people. We believe that we all are one. We have started endeavours like Army Goodwill Schools across J&K and this year sent over 500 students outside Kashmir for studies. Those who have talent and qualities, we are there to help them to showcase their talent,” he said. “I keep telling the parents here that they need to invest in their children since they are our future.”
About Pakistan having announced security policy mentioning 100-year-old peace between the two countries, Lt Gen Aujla said, “The commitment has to be observed and it has to sustain itself only then we can get the confidence as the past has not been good. We would appreciate and welcome this.”
He said that the Line of Control (LoC) being hot affects the lives of the people living along the LoC.
“The fire and animosity will go on. The lives of people along the LoC will be troubled. Infiltration can take place and the terrorist outfits on the other side of LoC will take its advantage. It will affect the people, lead to embargo, and no development,” the GOC said.
He said that there were challenges to maintain peace and security, which were being addressed suitably.
“The issues like criminal activities, recruitment into terrorist outfits, employment to youth, re-energising education system, governance outreach especially in remote areas, support to tourism and industry are being looked into,” Lt Gen Aujla said.
About the local terror recruitment, he said, “It is there. Even if one person is joining their ranks, we need to check it and are checking it. It should be zero.”
The GOC said that the Army was one of the most disciplined organisations but sometimes certain incidents do get reported between the citizens and the Army.
“If our men are at fault, they wouldn’t go unpunished. There is a procedure and we maintain standards,” he said.
Giving his message to Kashmiris, Lt Gen Aujla said, “Kashmiris have a bright future. They must stand on their feet and support our endeavours. Population support is necessary for a safe environment and a brighter future.”
Since Lt Gen Aujla has served in Kashmir in the past as well, he sees a lot of positive change here.
“During 1990s, things were bad. Now, things have changed in Kashmir and one would love to visit this ‘Paradise on Earth’ over and over again,” he said.