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India wants peace, but Pak must stop sending in militants: Army chief

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Indicates further extension of ‘ceasefire’

Pahalgam, May 25: The suspension of combat operations in Jammu and Kashmir can be extended further if the atmosphere of peace continues in the state, but any action by militants would trigger a rethink immediately, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said today.

Rawat also said Pakistan should stop sending militants into the state if it was interested in peace.

“If Pakistan really wants peace, then we will want them to take the first step by stopping infiltration of terrorists into our side. The ceasefire violation mostly takes place to aid infiltration,” Gen Rawat told reporters at a function here.

The Army chief said India wants peace along the borders but Pakistan was “continuously violating the ceasefire”, which caused loss of life and property.

“When such an action takes place, we also have to respond. We cannot sit idle. If there is ceasefire violation, then there will be action from our side,” he said.

Gen Rawat said for peace, it was imperative that “cross-border terrorism” comes to an end.

“It is imperative to stop terrorism from across (the LoC), the camps which are there where training is given to them, from where the ammunition is infiltrated into J-K and India, that should stop. If that happens, then I can assure you that peace will prevail on the borders,” he added.

The Army chief said the suspension of anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir was an attempt to make people realise the benefits of peace.

“The suspension of operations or what we call NICO (non initiation of combat operations) has been done to make the people believe and see how the atmosphere is when there is peace. The way an atmosphere of peace and calm is here right now, in my opinion, the people here are very happy with that,” he said.

The Union Home Ministry had announced on May 16 that government forces would not launch any operations in J&K during the holy month of Ramazan. However, the government forces reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people.

Gen Rawat said the Army will think about continuing the unilateral ceasefire if the peaceful situation continues in the Valley.

“If this atmosphere of peace continues, then I assure you that we will think about continuing with NICO. But if there is some action by the terrorists, then we will have to rethink on this ceasefire or suspension of operations or NICO,” he said.

Gen Rawat was here to launch Digital Education in five Army Goodwill Schools which has been established with the help of Power Grid Corporation and Extra Marks Foundation.

“Children in AGPS should get right kind of education. Their education standards should keep improving. Knowledge and education today needs infusion of technology. With this aim, we have taken help from PGC and Extra Marks foundation to start Digital education here,” he said.

Gen Rawat said the Corporation has contributed nearly Rs 25 lakh and Extra Marks foundation is providing support.

“This will be started in five Army Goodwill Schools on pilot basis. We would like to extend this technology to other Army Goodwill Schools also. We want the children from here to develop and progress in life,” he added. (With PTI inputs)

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