In a significant development General officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based army’s 15 Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey Friday said for the army the first priority is always conventional training than the counter-insurgency operations or counter-infiltration operations.
He said the counter-insurgency operations have a secondary role for the army as the army in the region for the aid and assistance of the police and the civil administration. “Our first priority is conventional training, conventional deployment and conventional focus,” he said talking to reporters here.
He said there has been no change in the Army’s conventional focus in Kashmir. He said the Army’s focus continues to be the “enemy” within and outside and the Army is well prepared to respond at any level. “You are saying a lot of guns and weapons are being brought into Kashmir. Some things are normal and routine. You know Chinese activities and what is happening across the Line of Actual Control (LAC). A balance of force is to be maintained. We are acting on those lines,” he added.
“Wherever police need us for any kind of operation we are joining them,” GoC Pandey said. “Ceasefire or no ceasefire, our eyes are set on our enemy. We are ready to face any misadventure be that along the LoC or in the hinterland. We are ready to respond at every level effectively.”
The statement assumes significance as for the past few years many defense analysts have been insisting that the army should be moved out from its role of counter insurgency in the region and the counter-insurgency operations should be handed over to the police and the paramilitary forces.
About impact of the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan on the Kashmir situation, the GoC said the pull out of the US forces from Afghanistan may push in some militants into Kashmir. However, he said, the army is ready to deal with any misadventure along the line of control.
The GoC said some people who are fond of freedom (Azadi) should try to understand what is the situation across LoC and on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. He said whatever happened 30 years ago caused huge distress to the people of Kashmir when some militants infiltrated. "There is a possibility that US forces pull-out from Afghanistan may push some militants into Kashmir but the situation is not what it was 30 years ago. Our Jammu and Kashmir police have a complete grip on the situation. They have good control. And no wrong thing will happen in Kashmir,” he said.
For past few years, he said the counter-infiltration grid is strong and it has reduced infiltration to a large extent. He said fewer militants are getting killed as the number of militants is not much. He said Pakistani militants have been given advisory roles and they have been asked not to be at the forefront. He described it as well thought out strategy so that Pakistan's complicity is not seen as they have the pressure of FATF. He said another motive could be that the killing of a local militant during the ecounter would lead to anger and disenchantment among the local population. He said another motive is to project militancy as an indigenous movement.
He described the present security situation as satisfactory and attributed it to abrogation of Article 370 scenario, developmental projects, and full control of situation and negligible incidents of infiltration for the past few years. He said the declining number of militants wouldn’t end militancy as long as the network running the militancy remains intact.
The GOC said J&K police is dealing with the narco-infiltration very effectively and a lot of drugs have been seized.
Asked whether the recent dialogue between J&K politicians and New Delhi would have any impact on Kashmir’s security situation, GoC said security situation and political process are two different things. “Dialogue is an ongoing process which is always on. The security situation is a different matter that is being tackled at different levels,” he said.
About recent killings in Srinagar, he said violence is down but some people want to continue with violence due to the conflict economy. He said killing a person and then dubbing him as informer is an act of terrorism. He said Jammu and Kashmir police are on the job.