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‘Surgical strikes’ on PAK camps-A subtle message on LoC: Gen Anbu
UDHAMPUR, Sep 7: Asserting that surgical strikes carried out last year at militant camps in Pakistan-Administered-Kashmir (PAK) were a subtle message that Line of Control (LoC) can be breached, a top Army Commander said the Indian Army will go across the border and strike when it is needed.

“When we want to, we will be able to breach it (LoC), go across & strike when we need. Subtle message we wanted to convey,” said Lt Gen Devraj Anbu General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GoC-in-C) of Northern Command while addressing a press conference after an Investiture Ceremony at Northern Command headquarters here today.

“Surgical strike was a point we wanted to drive home across that LoC is not a line that cannot be breached, he added.

Lt Gen Devraj Anbu also ruled out any Dokalam type stand-off between the armies of India and China in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), saying a multi- tier mechanism is in place to resolve any issue that may arise due to differences in perception of the border.

Replying to a volley of questions about the possibility of Dokalam-type stand-off between the armies of India and China in Ladakh, Gen Anbu said, "I don’t expect Dokalam-like situation to take place. It is not working here."

He said both countries have their own perception about the LAC and "therefore, we try to dominate these areas by patrolling. In the process, (if) you have certain faceoffs and any issues arising out of this due to difference of perception, we have mechanism which is in place."

In Dokalam area in the Sikkim sector, the armies of India and China were in a faceoff situation for over 70 days before the two sides agreed last week to "disengage".

The Army commander said the mechanism is "well-placed", from the lowest level to highest level and "whatever issues are raised, we deal with them on daily basis. Meetings take place and hotline communication is available to resolve whatever the differences are."

To a question about China building huge infrastructure near finger 4 point along the LAC in Ladakh, he said, "They (China) are on the banks of Pangoso (Lake). There are finger 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Finger 8 is the farthest one which PLA controls and finger 4 is in our control."

He added, "Sometimes, faceoffs and some incidents do happen but they are resolved as we have good relations there."

As far infrastructure on the Indian side is concerned, he said, "we have progressed a lot in last 10 years in eastern Ladakh."

Replying to a question about construction of a bridge by PLA on a stream after entering Indian territory in Dhamchok area of Ladakh, he said, "The bridge, you are mentioning, is not a bridge but a small log. It’s the line of Actual Control where the perception defers. They have a different perception (of LAC) and we have also a different perception at that particular place where the contention is.”

"Therefore, the issue has been raised and we are dealing it with in a manner available to us to take it up with the PLA and resolve the issue," he added.

The Army commander said, "We are totally in control of the area concerned but the issue related to Dhamchok is basically about taking cattle for grazing on both the sides on our side as well as the PLA side".

He said it is around that area that these log bridges have come up to facilitate grazing.

"We exactly know where our claimed lines lie and what we need to do to be able to effectively deal with the PLA on the matter. We are in full control," he added.

Replying to another query, Lt Gen Anbu said that the number of militant camps and launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) had gone up and around 475 militants are waiting to sneak into the Indian side.

Gen Anbu said there have been a large number of infiltration attempts along the LoC in J&K this year but "very less" have been successful.

"We cannot tell you the exact number of the militants. But the militants, who are waiting to cross over to this side (via the LoC) are nearly 250 in North Kashmir and around 225 in South of Pir Panjal (Jammu region)," he claimed.

Gen Anbu said the security situation along the LoC and in the hinterland in well under control.

"We are firmly in control of the situation along the LoC (the number of) launching pads and militant camps along LoC had increased as compared to the previous years," he said.

"While infiltration attempts have increased, the success to infiltrate has been much less than previous years despite large number of infiltration attempts. That is because of our robust counter-infiltration grid that we have on LoC," he said.

"The (number of) militants coming to this side have decreased to a large extent this year," Gen Anbu said.

According to Multi Agency Centre (MAC) of intelligence gathering, the number of militants who have managed to infiltrate is 75 during the last eight months, he said, adding, "But according to our assessment, it is 45 to 50."

He said the Army has created a "strong deterrence" at the LoC so that militants do not enter the Indian side.

"While attempts are more, we are preventing them from entering this side, whether in Kashmir valley or Jammu region," the Army commander said.

About the input of a group of militants having sneaked in via Samba, he said all agencies are closely watching that. "If it manifests somewhere, we will get to know," he added.

"The situation along the LoC and in hinterland is under control," he said.

He said the NIA raids aimed at choking funding to separatists, "Which has got direct link to terrorism in Kashmir, compliments the security operations" of forces.

"Administration (in J&K) is good. We have been able to eliminate terrorist leaders and it is complimented by the choking of funds by NIA raids. All this will have a deterring effect on the youth who are likely to become part of agitation dynamics. It has come down drastically," he said.

"What was in November-December last year and what is now - there are very few incidents that take place.

There is now a token number of persons who are on the ground as they have realized (futility of terrorism). It is only now handful people who are into this," he added.

Regarding the issue of protests, he said, "Agitational dynamics does not mean that each and every person comes to streets and their heart and soul is into it. There is an upward curve. The government in power and security forces get to top of it."

The Army commander said elimination of the leadership of militants has brought down incidents and recruitment of the local militants.

"It (local recruitment) happens when the militants have an upper hand. The youngsters in the age group of 16 to 18 get moulded by the militants and separatists to join the ranks," he added.

"This is what we need to look at. The number of the locals militants joining ranks have been constant in last year years including this year," he said.

About the militancy situation in the hinterland, Gen Anbu said, "It is improving. Those (militants) who are operating in the hinterland are foreign militants in North Kashmir and South Kashmir has presence of local militants more and foreign militants are lesser."

He said the security forces are trying to dominate the South Kashmir region.

"We conduct searches keeping in mind that we do not cause any inconvenience to local people. That is where we get information from and warn them in advance. We conduct operations and they (operations) are clean. After the operation, we keep interacting with people so that they are on our side. This has had very good effect in South Kashmir," Gen Anbu said.

"We have killed 100 militants in the past four months. A total of 144 militants have been killed so far (in Kashmir this year)," he said.

"The effect of what is happening now will manifest in a couple of months from now. But there is decrease in local youth getting recruited," he added.

The Army commander strongly batted for reaching out to the youth of Kashmir.

"The issue that needs attention is that you need to engage the youth and the state government and everybody has to play a part in ensuring employment generation and positive security environment is created by the security forces and it will get controlled," Gen Anbu said.

Army commander said no footprint of militants has been seen in the Jammu region.

"There is no militant presence in Jammu region. May be there will one odd such report and that too due to any infiltration. But there is no resident militant or presence of foreign militant in Jammu region," he said in reply to a question with regard to presence of the militants in the region.

He said 144 militants have been killed in the state so far this year and the situation is "well under control".

News Updated at : Friday, September 8, 2017
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