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Army ready for all challenges: GoC Northern Command

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“The militant recruitment has come down in the past five months”

Gulmarg: General Officer Commanding in Chief, Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh on Thursday said that though 2018 has been full of challenges, peaceful conduct of ULB, Panchayat elections and Amarnath Yatra is a big satisfaction and Army is ready to meet any challenge which arises in future too.

He said that the Army has a range of options to exercise against the continued infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir to give a befitting reply to Pakistan.

“It (infiltration) has carried on… We have a range of options that are available to the Indian Army and depending on the situation and depending on what is the effect that we desire, we decide on whatever option has to be exercised,” Lt Gen Ranbir Singh told reporters at Gulmarg.

Lt Gen Singh was talking to the media after inaugurating the Gulmarg Winter Youth Festival at the famous ski-resort in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

He said ceasefire violations on the LoC was a ploy by the Pakistani army to push the infiltrators into Indian territory.

“As far as the ceasefire violations are concerned, they have continued on the LoC, but it is essentially the adversary, the Pakistani army, on the other side of the LoC initiating ceasefire violations with a view to facilitate the infiltrators and give them cover to cross over the Indian side,” he said.

The Army commander, however, said the Pakistani army is given a befitting response whenever a ceasefire violation takes place.

“Our strategy is very clear. Whenever any ceasefire violations are carried out by the Pakistan army, they are given a befitting response and it is to the credit of all the troops deployed on the LoC that we have been able to keep the enemy under tremendous pressure,” he said.

Lt Gen Singh said the multi-tier and effective counter-infiltration grid on the LoC was the reason the Army has been able to eliminate a number of militants.

“Our operations have continued unabated whether it is the counter-infiltration grid on the LoC wherein we have a multi-tier, very effective counter-infiltration grid, and that is the reason why we have been able to trap so many infiltrators on or very close to the LoC.

“Similarly, in the hinterland, all operations are intelligence-based, surgical operations. And it is to the credit of the people and the youth of Kashmir that there is a lot of flow of information and because of that we have been able to achieve security success is in the past one year,” he said.

He termed as huge success the killing of more than 250 militants in 2018 and said over 50 were apprehended and five surrendered.

The Army commander said the militant recruitment has come down in the past five months.

“In our assessment, the local recruitment has been there in 2018.  However, in the last about four to five months, there has been a relative decline in the number of youths joining militancy.

“It is because of the result of the sustained efforts of the government, of the security forces that we have been able to prevail upon the teachers, the parents and the elderly to wean away their children from joining the menace of militancy,” he said.

He, however, said Pakistan was using social media to radicalise the valley’s youth and giving them “false promises”.

“As far as radicalisation is concerned, I think it is our adversary who has been using the social media to a large extent with a view to radicalise our youth, to take them on a wrong path, to give them false promises and to give them a false feeling that possibly be able to get ‘azadi’ (freedom) in the manner in which our adversary feels.

“But, like I said, our youth has got a lot of knowledge, there is a lot of hope, there is huge capability, there is huge potential. We are all working together to ensure that our energies are channelised in the right direction for the good of our state as also our country,” he said.

To check the radicalisation through social media, Lt Gen Singh said, various measures had been put in place.

“Social media is something which has been an issue of concern for the past sometime and I would like to mention that we are putting in various measures right from the government of India’s initiatives at New Delhi and similar initiatives at the sate level and by all security forces.

“As far as the Army is concerned, we are not behind, we are a step ahead and we have also been able to ensure that our counter narrative also reaches to the concerned people. So, this is an exercise in progress and it will continue,” he said.

Referring to the forthcoming parliamentary and assembly polls, he said the armed forces were prepared for any contingency.

“You would remember that we had the non-initiation of combat operations (unilateral ceasefire in June last year), we had Amarnath Yatra, urban local body elections, the panchayat elections and it is to the credit of the state government, to all the security forces that each of these events went on exceptionally well from the security point of view.

“Nobody knew at the beginning of 2018 that all these activities are going to take place. But, as far as the armed forces are concerned, we are always prepared for all the contingencies. We all are aware that there are going to be elections which will take place in 2019, there will be activities of the adversary who will continue to put pressure as for as the infiltration and radicalisation is concerned, but the armed forces are absolutely prepared take on any challenge that could arise anytime,” the Army commander said.

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