‘Pak continuing with its anti-India activities along LoC’
State Times News UDHAMPUR: Commanding-in-Chief of the Indian Army’s Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh on Monday confirmed that the first surgical strike was carried out by India in September 2016. Citing an RTI reply by Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Indian Army, Singh said that the first surgical strike by armed forces took place in September 2016, to avenge the Uri garrison attack, in which 19 soldiers were martyred. “A few days ago, DGMO said in a reply to an RTI that the first surgical strike happened in September 2016. I don’t want to go into what political parties say, they will be given an answer by the government. What I have told you is a statement of fact,” Lt General Singh said. Singh was addressing a press conference here in which he was asked about Congress’ claims of conducting six surgical strikes during the UPA regime. Congress leader Rajiv Shukla had earlier told reporters at the AICC briefing that six surgical strikes were conducted during Manmohan Singh government. Shukla had stated that two surgical strikes were carried out when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister–one on January 21, 2000, in Nadala Enclave across the Neelam River and second on September 18, 2003, in Baroh Sector in Poonch. Meanwhile at the press conference today, Lt General Singh said that airstrikes by the Indian Air Force on terrorist infrastructure in Balakot was a major achievement. He said that Indian aircraft went deep into enemy territory and launched preemptive strikes across terror launchpads in Pakistan. “Pakistanis carried out air operations the following day, however they were given a befitting reply,” Singh said. Forty Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were martyred in the deadly terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14 when a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the CPRF convoy. Asserting that the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir is “under control”, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said Pakistan is continuing with its anti-India activities along the Line of Control (LoC) by trying to infiltrate terrorists into the Valley and promoting drug trade. He said 86 terrorists were killed this year in the state and vowed that operations against the ultras will continue. “Pakistan has been continuing with its activities which are mainly anti-India, whether it is violating ceasefire, promoting cross-border infiltration, drug trafficking, narcotics, circulation of fake Indian currency,” he said. He said the neighbouring country wants to continue with its proxy war against India. “But I must assure you that our efforts to thwart each of these actions are in place and Pakistan will not able to succeed in its designs,” Lt Gen Singh said. He said the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) was peaceful and “we have been able to ensure peace and tranquility with China”.
Lt Gen Singh said the established mechanisms for confidence building have ensured that there are no “fraction points” between the two sides.
“If at all there are any kind of transgressions and incursions, which do take place, the established mechanisms take care of that,” he added.
He said the security forces helped the administration in Jammu and Kashmir to conduct the Lok Sabha polls in a peaceful manner.
“We recently finished with the elections in Jammu and Kashmir. The credit is due to the security forces and the administration,” Lt Gen Singh said.
He said while security forces killed a number of terrorists in the past about four months in the state, some ultras shunned the path of violence and returned to the mainstream.
“During this year, we have been able to neutralise 86 terrorists so far. Twenty terrorists were also apprehended. Our operations against terrorists will continue. A number of ultras have been brought back to the mainstream with the help of the parents, teachers and senior citizens,” Lt Gen Singh said.
He said the army was able to check and arrest terror activities in south of Pir Panjal in the Jammu region.
At present, there are no confirmed reports about the presence of terrorists in the region, Lt Gen Singh said.
“Our resolve, our commitment to operations (against terrorists) continues to be same in south of Pir Panjal. We will not allow the area to slip into terrorism,” he added.
On radicalization of Kashmir’s youth, the Army Commander said that failing to engineer infiltration of terrorists from across the LoC, Pakistani agencies have resorted to social media to radicalise Kashmiri youths, with 40 of them joining terrorism since January.
“Pakistan has been continuing with its efforts to show this (terrorism) as an indigenous movement. Today, they feel absolutely starved because of the very effective counter-infiltration grid of the Indian Army,” he said.
Local recruitment still remains a matter of concern, but youths are realising that “we do not want to become fodder for Pakistani agencies”, he said.
“Successful infiltration from across the Line of Control (LoC) is virtually becoming very difficult,” Singh said while replying to a question on recruitment by terrorist outfits in Kashmir.
“Therefore, for them (Pakistan) to continue with this terrorism, they want that the local content should be increased,” he said.
“Local recruitment remains a matter of concern for all of us. Last year, 217 local youths had taken to terrorism. This year, number has significantly reduced. As on date, there are only 40 youth who have picked up arms,” the Army commander said.
The Army said a large number of misguided youths returned to mainstream society because of its outreach programmes to connect with families and teachers.
Since 2016, there has been a constant rise in the number of youths joining terrorism, as per official data. In 2015, 66 youths joined terrorism in Kashmir and 53 in 2014.
In 2017, 126 locals had joined terrorist ranks, it said.
South Kashmir districts Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag have become a breeding ground for terrorists with many youths joining their rank and file, it said.
Outfits like the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Lashker-e- Taiba find more recruits.
The data said out of the 217 recruits in 2018, 154 hailed from south Kashmir. The highest, 69, was from Pulwama. In 2016, 88 Kashmiri youths had joined terrorism, according to the data.
“I am sure with the help of all the stakeholders we will be able to arrest this trend in the times to come as we are doing now,” he added.
This year has seen a marked change, wherein security forces reached out to parents, elders teachers in various villages to explain to them that youth picking up guns is futile.
In 2010, 54 youths had joined terrorism, while in 2011 the number came down to 23. It further dipped to 21 in 2012 and 16 in 2013, as per the official data.
The data is based on technical and human intelligence, besides interrogation reports of terrorists arrested during various counter-insurgency operations in the Valley.
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