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Trend of youth joining militancy on decline: Northern Army cmdr

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‘Pak shall be punished' for anti-India activities’

Udhampur: The Army's Northern Command chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh on Friday said there is a relative decline in the number of youths joining militancy in Kashmir for the past some time.

However, he said there have been a large number of reports of “radicalisation of youths” in the Valley.

"As far as recruitment is concerned, it is a matter of satisfaction that for the past some time there has been a relative decline in the number of youths joining militancy," Singh told reporters here.

He did not specify the time period.

The trend should continue for some time, he said, replying to a question posed about the current trend of youths joining militancy.

"There have been a large number of reports of radicalisation of youths," he added.

Singh said the Army's Goodwill Schools were helping check the radicalisation.

There have been no reports of any student of these schools being radicalised, he added.

Responding to a question about increasing incidents of militancy in Jammu region, Singh said there have been some reports of militant activities south of Pir Panchal but they are isolated incidents.

The Army has taken stock of the situation. In most of the cases there are ample leads to follow and arrest militant movements in south of Pir Panchal, he added.

The Northern Command chief said the people of Poonch and Rajouri, mostly the entire area of south of Pir Panchal, have realised the dividends of peace.

They support the government forces to ensure that no militant activity takes place, he said.

Speaking about the security of upcoming Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir, Singh said the Army would ensure that the elections are peaceful.

He said several rounds of security meetings have been held with the Governor and the Director General of Police.

The force will be able to provide a secure environment so that people can come out and vote freely, he said.

Meanwhile, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, said Pakistan shall be "punished" if it carries out activities detrimental to India and asserted that befitting replies were given to the neighbouring nation for violating ceasefire.

The Army commander's comments come in the wake of fatalities in sniping incidents along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Jammu region in the last few days.

"The message is very clear for the troops on the ground that should Pakistan not stop from carrying out activities, which are detrimental to our national interest along the LoC, they (Pakistan) shall be punished accordingly," Lt Gen Singh told PTI on the sidelines of a function here to felicitate teachers of Army Goodwill schools.

Three Army soldiers and a porter were killed and four others were injured in sniping incidents along the LoC in Jammu's Rajouri and Poonch district last week.

"There has been regular sniping incidents from an area along the LoC and we have regularly (lodged) protests with our Pakistani counterparts on their sniping activities. If they have carried out any ceasefire violation, we have given them a befitting reply," Singh said.

The Army officer also said that "as far as infiltration attempts from across the LoC are concerned, Pakistan has continued with its efforts to give impetus to infiltration."

The Indian Army is deployed all along the LoC and "we have been able to thwart all attempts by Pakistan to push in militants toward our side", he said, adding the security situation in the state's hinterland is stable, but remains fragile.

Goodwill schools were started in 1998 and currently, the Northern Command runs 45 such schools under Project Sadbhavana.

Twenty-four teachers received awards from Lt Gen Singh for their innovative skills in teaching.

The project provides education to 15,000 students and employs 1,000 teaching and non-teaching staff.  (With PTI inputs)

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