500 militants waiting in PoK to infiltrate into J&K: Army Comdr

‘Violence level down in Valley since Aug 5’

*Pak using other borders to push ultras, arms

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Oct 11: Northern Command chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said today that 500 militants were waiting at various launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir while 200 to 300 militants were already operating in the State. He maintained that the ultras were running short of weapons and use of drones to smuggle arms was one of the methods adopted by Pakistan to equip the militants with weaponry.
However, the Army Commander declared that the troops were fully prepared to meet with any kind of situation and that their both Counter-Infiltration and Counter-Terrorist Grids were functioning very effectively to keep nefarious designs of militants and Pakistan completely under check.

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Speaking to media persons after inaugurating `Sangam Youth Festival’ at University Campus in Bhaderwah tehsil of Doda district, Lt Gen Singh said the militants were facing acute shortage of weaponry and they were trying to meet it (the shortage) by attempting to attack police stations or snatch weapons from the Special Police Officers (SPOs).
“Pakistan was also trying to meet shortage of weapons with militants by adopting various methods including smuggling of arms and ammunition using various options, the drones being one of them. But the Army is fully alert and won’t allow Pakistan designs to succeed,” he said.
The Northern Army Commander said the Counter-Infiltration Grid was multi-tier and it has been able to thwart several infiltration attempts at the LoC itself
“Now there were reports that Pakistan was trying to infiltrate militants from other borders and then make them to enter Jammu and Kashmir via Lakhanpur. However, we will be able to stop that too,” he added.
The Northern Command chief said nearly 500 terrorists are waiting in various training camps along the Line of Control (LoC) in PoK, looking for opportunities to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir.
He also said 200 to 300 terrorists are operating in hinterland of the Sate to keep the region in turmoil with Pakistan’s support.
“As far as militants operating within Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, their number could be between 200 to 300 terrorists but it keeps on changing as some militants are de-radicalized,” he said.
Lt Gen Singh said this in reply to questions about the number of militants operating in J&K and those in PoK ready to infiltrate into the country.
“Like this, nearly 500 militants are staged in terrorists’ training camps in PoK and are ready to infiltrate into J&K,” said Lt Gen Singh but added that these figures too keep changing as per their training schedule.
“Whatever be the number, we are capable to stop and eliminate them to ensure peace and normalcy in this region. But Pakistan keeps trying to do some mischief to disturb the peace here. Even today terror infrastructure is being run within Pakistan (by its forces and agencies). These include training at launching pad for terrorists to infiltrate into the country,” he added.
Lt Gen Singh said violence in the Kashmir valley has gone down since the abrogation of the Article 370 on August 5 and added that he had high hopes from the valley’s youngsters.
“The situation in valley is under control. Ever since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, there has been significant improvement in all the violence parameters in Kashmir. There has been reduction in terrorist initiated incidents. There has been reduction in stone pelting incidents. There has also been reduction in the protests that were carried out by the people or the large number of crowds coming out,” the Northern Command chief said.
But the situation remains fragile, because Pakistan continues with its designs to push in infiltrators so that they can keep the State of Jammu and Kashmir in a constant state of turmoil, the Army Commander said.
“We are prepared to foil their designs,” he added.
Replying to a question, the counter-infiltration mechanism of the Army has been very strong with multi-tier Counter-Infiltration Grid on the LoC to check any kind of infiltration attempts by the militants. Even if the militants managed to infiltrate, we have the Counter-Terrorism Grid to neutralize the militants, he added.
Replying to a question, he said there was no change in the role of the UN along the Line of Control.
In response to another question whether the Army could again conduct surgical strikes in PoK, the Army Commander said surgical strike was one of the options and which option had to be used when with sure shot success depends on the situation.
“Surgical strike or any other options, the Army is fully prepared,” he added.
Referring to the situation on South of Pir Panjal range, Lt Gen Singh said both Counter-Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism Grids were strong and dynamic and based on the Intelligence inputs, troops have killed three militants at Batote only few days back.
On reports that Afghan militants could also infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir, he said there has been no corroboration of the media reports but the Army was capable to meet with any kind of situation.
Responding to a question about protests by locals along the LoC in Pakistan, Singh said, “Our warning still continues. If any of the people, with support of the Pakistani army, cross the LoC to enter into this side, they will get a befitting reply. Our strategy is very clear about it.”
He said the jawans and the officers have been given clear directions about this.
“You must have seen that when some people assembled across the LoC some days ago in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the local police and the army stopped them and sent them back,” he said.
Singh said the Army, based on intelligence inputs, keeps modifying its security grid in Jammu’s Pir Panchal to prevent a return of militancy in areas to its south.
Singh appealed to the locals to work with the Army to help eliminate terrorists.
“We call upon the people to ensure that militancy does not return to this region. We have seen the dividends of peace,” he said.