250-300 terrorists in PoK training camps
JAMMU, Feb 20: Army Chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane today said that terror incidents have seen a downturn and the Army is maintaining pressure on terror groups in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir where the troops have foiled number of BAT action attempts even before they had been able to launch them.
Asserting that there are 15-20 terrorist camps inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Gen Naravane who had concluded his two-day visit to Nagrota Corps Headquarters yesterday, said in Delhi that there are around 250-300 terrorists at any time in the training camps and numbers may fluctuate.
“We have been getting inputs. We have been able to foil (Pakistan army’s) BAT action attempts even before they had been able to launch them,” the Chief of Army Staff said.
The BAT (Border Action Team) comprised Pakistan army regulars as well as battle hardened militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) outfits.
“There is an external dimension to the decrease in cross-border terrorism, he said, in oblique reference to the ongoing Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary.
Pakistan may have to rethink strategy as even China realised they cannot back their all-weather friend all the time, the Army chief said on the FATF plenary.
A sub-group of the global terror financing watchdog FATF on Tuesday recommended continuation of Pakistan in the ‘Grey List’ for its failure to check terror funding.
When asked on the health condition of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Army chief only said security forces are geared up to take care of any situation.
On the proposed creation of a theatre command exclusively for J&K, he said there will be detailed discussions before anything is finalised.
Gen Naravane had visited Nagrota Corps for two days on February 18 and 19 to review situation along the LoC in twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch. This was his second visit to Jammu region after taking over as the Chief of Army Staff on December 31, 2019 from Gen Bipin Rawat. Last month, he had visited the Northern Command Headquarters and forward areas on the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts.
Prior to that, he had also visited Siachen Glacier, the highest battle field in the world, located in the Union Territory of Ladakh. The visit to Siachen Glacier was his first to any place outside New Delhi after becoming the Army chief.
According to sources, Pakistan army was desperate to push trained militants into Jammu and Kashmir in view of depleting strength of the militant cadre in the Valley as it wants to intensify militant activities in summer.
Army has taken all preventive measured to thwart designs of the Pakistan army, sources said.
It may be mentioned here that Pakistan army has regularly been resorting to heavy mortar shelling and firing including artillery fires on the LoC targeting defence posts and civilian areas in Poonch and Rajouri districts. Recently, Pakistan army had directly targeted a Mosque at Shahpur along the LoC in Poonch district during Friday prayers killing a civilian and injuring couple of others who were on way to offer the prayers.
Meanwhile, Gen Naravane said the force has been championing gender equality and the Supreme Court order granting permanent commission to women officers will give it a lot of clarity moving forward.
The Supreme Court on Monday had directed that women officers in the Army be granted permanent commission and command postings.
“Indian Army does not discriminate any soldier based on religion, caste, creed, or even gender. The outlook of the Indian Army has been throughout like this and that is why we started inducting women officers as early as in 1993,” Gen Naravane said.
Indian Army has taken the initiative to induct women in rank and file, and the first batch of 100 women soldiers is undergoing training at Corps of Military Police Centre and School, he said.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is a welcome one as it brings out a sense of clarity and purpose to gainfully employ officers for better efficiency of the organization. I must assure that everybody in the Indian Army including women officers will be given equal opportunity to contribute to the nation as also progress in their careers,” he said hailing the verdict as enabling.
Letters are being sent to women officers asking whether they will prefer permanent commissioning, the Army chief said.