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Militants in large numbers waiting to infiltrate: Lt Gen Bhatt

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Srinagar, Feb 26: A large number of militants are waiting at “launching pads” across the Line of Control (LoC) to cross over into Kashmir,  a top Army commander said here today.

He said “cease-fire violations by Pakistan are also an attempt to push in infiltrators”.

“We have inputs of many infiltrators waiting at the launching pads and we think infiltration will start sooner this year because of less snow,” General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, Lt Gen A K Bhatt, said.

“But we are taking counter-measures. One reason for the firing can be this (to push infiltrators). Whenever there is firing by Pakistan, it is certain there is an attempt to push infiltrators. The same thing happened in Kupwara and Tangdhar,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a passing-out parade at the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) Centre here.

“The militants waiting across the LoC are in groups of 30-40 at many places from Lepa valley to Mandal area, near 161 Brigade, Rampur, and other areas,” Bhatt said, citing inputs from “security forces”.

Asked about reports of announcements made by Pakistan asking villagers to evacuate, Bhatt said they were not for the villagers on this side of the LoC. “They advised a few of the villages there to vacate for safety reasons and my input is that those villages have also not vacated completely,” he claimed.

“The cease-fire violations initiated by Pakistan have been appropriately responded to. But I would also like to tell you, it is more of a local affair where due to their actions we have reacted at specific places. We do not intend to open the entire front. Our only thing is that we will retaliate if Pakistan indulges in any aggressive action or pushes infiltrators across,” he said.

He also claimed that an “attempt by a Border Action Team (BAT) of Pakistan to sneak into Kupwara was foiled” and said such attempts will always be dealt in the same manner.

On the use of heavy artillery along the LoC in Uri sector, the Army commander said specific situations determine the kind of artillery used.

Referring to the killing of two policemen in separate attacks yesterday, Bhatt said militants were looking for “easy targets”.

He said the government forces would continue to target the militant leadership and there is complete synergy and coordination between all the agencies.

On the Shopian firing incident, the Army commander said “forces do not fire until there is extreme provocations and there is danger to life and property.

“If our jawans fired that day, it was because the situation was such. There were apprehensions of lynching and loss of life and property. I want to tell you that we have never opened fire on civilians and we will never do so,” he said.

On local youth joining militancy, Bhatt said the youth should join armed forces and other jobs to strengthen the country.

“My primary aim is to ensure that there is peace and prosperity in Kashmir. My primary focus will be to carry out people-friendly operations so that Kashmir, which is moving towards mainstream, continues doing so,” he said.

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