Time not right for our pull out from Valley: Army

Excelsior Correspondent
page1-5SRINAGAR, Sept 22: Army today ruled out its withdrawal from the Kashmir valley, saying the time is not right and forces may lose ground and gains they so “painstakingly” made to “inimical” elements.
“The time is not right for us to pull out. If we pull out now, we may just lose the ground and that space may be filled by elements which are inimical to the civil society,” General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Srinagar-based 15 corps Lt Gen Satish Dua told reporters here.
He said due to persistent efforts of the Army and other security forces, “today we have a network grid of security forces in Kashmir, which saw a lot of violence over the last 25-26 years”.
“We have brought the situation down to such a manageable level, to a low level of violence so that the work for development can be undertaken,” Lt Gen Dua said.
“We have made these gains painstakingly, with blood and sweat of our comrades and friends from civil life. Now that we have come to this, I think we need to give it some more time,” the top Army Commander said.
Lt Gen Dua termed the waving of flags of Islamic State by masked youths in after Friday prayers as an exercise to “grab attention”.
He, however, said there was radicalisation and it needed to be checked.
“We see flags every Friday. Is that flag actually sponsored by IS? I don’t know. There are some youths who come and wave flags. They know that it will grab your attention. It is only to grab attention. A 12-second flag-waving is shown for 30 minutes in the evening on the news, so that is it.
“But it is the manifestation of some radicalisation. It is there to see…It is that radicalisation that we have to guard it against,” he said.
Up to 1150 militants are in about 17 training camps in Pakistan and parts of Kashmir under its occupation and about 325 ultras are at launch pads along the Line of Control (LoC) waiting to sneak in, he said.
“As per our intelligence inputs, there are about 17 terrorist training camps in Pakistan and PoK put together. Out of that, nine are opposite the 15 Corps zone. Four each in Manshera which is in Pakistan and Muzaffarabad.
“Total strength of terrorists in these camps is anything between 1000 to 1150,” he said.
He said that there are 23 different launch pads on the other side closer to the LoC having strength of 315 to 325 militants waiting for opportunity to sneak in.
There is a bulge in the militants in the launch pads because they are unable to get across, Gen Dua said.
“Whenever they have tried an infiltration bid, it has always been foiled or the militants have been eliminated. So, what is happening is that their numbers are swelling up but they are unable to get across,” the Army Commander said.
Lt Gen Dua said the militants have become desperate as their masters want them to do “something”.
“So much so that they are under pressure from their masters to do something and several times they just try and sneak in and attempt is to just target either civilian or military targets very close to the LoC and then go back,” he said.
About the trend of infiltration bids by militants this year, the Corps Commander said attempts are always there to step up such activities before summer season comes to an end and the mountain passes close due to snow.
“This is nothing new. Every year in summers when the passes are open, there is an attempt to infiltrate. But with a very well coordinated multi-tier counter-infiltration grid that has been placed by the Army, all the infiltration bids have been foiled. Infact, two militants have been captured,” he said.
On recruitment of youth into the ranks of militants, Gen Dua said “there have been some recruitments and we are aware of them. Infact, not only have there been recruitments, seven of them have been caught, killed or have returned also. Some boys have even returned back from the fold of militancy.”
Referring to the use of social media by militants especially Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, he said they are doing so to grab news headlines.
“They have not gone across for training, they are not well-trained but they are grabbing the media attention,” he said.
“Some misguided youth, they are our children and are not from across, are getting enticed by this radicalization… My word that I would like to put out through you – our friends in the media – why only show stories about Burhan and others for youth get enticed by them. There are other positive stories as well in Kashmir and are getting lost. Maybe they are not getting you TRP ratings,” he said.
Lt Gen Dua said Army will measure up to any challenge whenever the situation calls for.
“We are developing our own intelligence. One acknowledges the fact that they enjoy the support of the locals and they are able to melt. It is not in the jungles. It is difficult to carry out operations in congested village localities and houses. So, they are using that space and we have to be very careful.
“For us, it is more important that we do not cause collateral damage to the citizens. We do not cause hardships to the citizens than to grab or kill or neutralize or capture a couple of militants. Awam (people) is more important. We will get them,” he said.


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