Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande said the current state of affairs along the Jammu and Kashmir borders is under control but some terrorist activities have increased in the Rajouri-Poonch area and the southern region of Pir Panjal in Jammu zone. However, continued attempts at infiltration indicate the existence of terrorist infrastructure across the border.
“The situation is under control on our western borders in Jammu and Kashmir, but some terrorist activities have increased in the Rajouri-Poonch area and the southern region of Pir Panjal in Jammu zone. While the continued infiltration attempts make it clear that terrorist infrastructure still exists across the border,” he said at the 76th Army Day Parade in Lucknow on Monday.
In his speech, General Pande said increasing terrorist activities been noticed during the last few months but asserted that the efforts of security personnel have led to a significant reduction in violence and infiltration within the hinterlands of Jammu and Kashmir.
During an exclusive interview with BharatShakti Editor-in-Chief Nitin A. Gokhale last week, the Army Chief had revealed that the Rajouri-Poonch area has witnessed heightened activity in the past eighteen months, primarily linked to the intentions of our adversaries. These adversaries support terrorism and deploy proxy organizations like tanzeems across the Line of Control (LC) in our region. Over the last three years, we have successfully eliminated 45 foreign terrorists operating in that area. Following a period of normalcy and peace after 2019, marked by developmental activities, the adversaries are now seeking to reactivate this region.
In the interview, the Army Chief revealed details about the updated strategy in the region. He said they have restructured their counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism grid in that area. Additional forces have been deployed, and efforts have been made to enhance the intelligence setup to gather more human intelligence. Using technology to identify and collect intelligence aims to strengthen the armed forces’ effectiveness. Furthermore, collaborative and synergized operations with other security and intelligence agencies in the area have begun to yield positive results.
The COAS assured that the recent aberrations in the conduct of an operation is being investigated thoroughly. The guilty will be dealt with. The Army will conduct itself most professionally and in sync with its ethos. The Army will continue to engage with the local community. There’s a new phase in J&K. It’s extremely important to work in sync with other agencies fighting the terrorists; both police and intelligence establishments.
General Pande also answered queries regarding the controversy surrounding the recent civilian casualties in the Poonch sector. He assured that the investigation into the alleged custodial torture and death of three civilians would be conducted in a “fair, transparent, and time-bound manner.” Relatives claim that the Army detained these individuals in connection with a terrorist attack that resulted in the death of four soldiers last month. The Army Chief assured that strict action would be taken against anyone found guilty of deviating from the prescribed conduct or failing to adhere to the rules of engagement. General Pande instructed his personnel to act professionally and ensure constructive engagement with the local community.
“These allegations, we are investigating in a very fair, transparent and time-bound manner. That is my assurance. Anybody found guilty or stepping out of the line, having not followed the guidelines, instructions, rules of engagement, we will take strict action against them,” he observed.
Discussing the dual threat posed by China and Pakistan, General Pande remarked that one of the challenges faced is maintaining high levels of operational preparedness and readiness on both the Western and Northern borders. Despite ongoing operational commitments in these regions, sustaining a heightened readiness is of utmost importance.
(Note: To watch full interview click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-Yqlw-LjI4&t=960s)