DM, Guv, Army chief review security; smooth conduct of local elections

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with Army chief General Bipin Rawat at Balbir forward post in Kashmir on Sunday.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with Army chief General Bipin Rawat at Balbir forward post in Kashmir on Sunday.

Centre to boost infra along LAC with China
Nirmala stresses for tight vigil along LoC to foil intrusions
Sanjeev Pargal/Fayaz Bukhari
JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Sept 2: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat today reviewed preparedness of the troops along the Line of Control (LoC) and hinterland besides situation for upcoming Municipal and Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir for which the State would require “extra ordinary arrangements” to conduct them peacefully.
Sources told the Excelsior that though there will be no direct involvement of Army in conduct of Municipal and Panchayat elections, which are scheduled to begin on October 1 and last till December 8, the State Government was likely to ask the Army to conduct area domination patrolling in the districts, scheduled to go to polls, to boost morale of the candidates and polling staff, who could become “potential target” of the militants.
In their meeting with Governor Satya Pal Malik, Sitharaman and Gen Rawat were reported to have reviewed various aspects for peaceful conduct of Municipal and Panchayat elections in the State, which were being held at the initiative of the Central Government as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called for restoration of democracy in the State at the grass root level.
Sources disclosed that the Army was ready to help Jammu and Kashmir Government in whatever manner asked for peaceful local elections in the State. They said the area domination patrolling by the Army in poll bound areas will not only boost morale of candidates and polling staff but also encourage the people to come out and vote to defy boycott calls of some groups of militants and separatists.
Municipal elections are being held in the State after eight years from October 1 and Panchayat polls after two years from November 8.
“The issue of kidnapping of kin of police personnel and also figured prominently during the visit of the Defence Minister and the Army chief in Kashmir. A strategy to ensure that militants don’t manage to increase their hold in South Kashmir, where they had carried out all kidnappings was discussed,” sources said.
According to sources, given boost to infrastructure development along Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Ladakh was also a significant issue discussed by the Defence Minister with the Governor as well as the Army Commanders as India was still unable to match China in the context of development in the border areas.
“A decision has been taken to boost infrastructure development in Ladakh by taking road network right up to the Indian posts on the LAC with China and equip the troops with all possible facilities,” sources said, adding that situation on Sino-Indian border was peacefully barring few incidents of incursions, which are resolved at the local level.
Meanwhile, Sitharaman stressed the troops deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) to remain alert to foil any infiltration attempts and defeat the designs of the forces inimical to peace in Kashmir.
Sitharaman interacted with the troops in the forward area of Kashmir in Kupwara district during her visit to the Valley to review the prevailing security situation along the LoC and in the hinterland.
Accompanied by the Gen Rawat and Northern Army Commander Lt General Ranbir Singh, the Defence Minister visited the forward areas in the frontier district of Kupwara today.
She was briefed by the Commanders on ground on the operational preparedness of the troops deployed in the hinterland who have conducted successful operations recently in the area. She was also briefed about the counter infiltration mechanism along the LoC.
The Defence Minister was informed during the briefing about the counter-infiltration grid that has been tightened so as to foil any infiltration attempts from across the LoC. She was told that over 250 militants are waiting at launch pads on the LoC ready to sneak into Kashmir. She was told that the troops with the help of modern gadgetry are watching their movement and with the intelligence inputs successfully foiled several infiltrations bids so far.
Srinagar based Defence spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said here that the Defence Minister accompanied by the COAS General Bipin Rawat was received by Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, Northern Army Commander and Lt Gen AK Bhatt, Chinar Corps Commander.
“The Raksha Mantri visited the forward areas in the frontier district of Kupwara where she was briefed by the Commanders on ground as regards the operational preparedness and counter infiltration grid. During her interaction with the troops, she lauded their round the clock sharp vigil along the Line of Control and high morale”, he said.
The Defence Minister, later held discussions on prevailing security situation in Kashmir, with Governor Satya Pal Malik at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar.
They discussed the security situation prevailing in the State and along the LoC and border. They discussed the increased attempts of infiltration from across the LoC and preparedness of the troops to counter it. She also discussed the operations conducted against the militants in the hinterland during in which 150 militants including their top commanders were killed so far this year.
They also discussed several important inter-related issues concerning effective management of internal and external security and the need for strengthening and the maintenance of vital road networks and strategic connectivity in J&K. The Governor lauded the Northern Army’s working in total coordination with the civil administration, State police and Central Armed Forces for ensuring safety and security of the people.
At Raj Bhawan, Sitharaman was received by the Governor and she extended warm greetings to Malik on his appointment as the new Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.