No violation, instigation by Pak since ceasefire in Feb: top Army officer

WITH the India-Pakistan border truce in its seventh month, the top Army commander in Kashmir said Monday that there has been no ceasefire violation from across the border in the Valley. The General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps also said that there have been only two known successful infiltration attempts by militants this year, including one on Sunday in the Uri sector, in which an Army soldier was injured.

Speaking about the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, GoC Lt Gen D P Pandey said there was no need to worry about any spillover of Afghan and Pakistan militants into Kashmir.The ceasefire had been announced by India and Pakistan on February 25. Asked whether there had been any violations since, Pandey said: “This year, there has been none… At least, in the Kashmir Valley there has been zero (ceasefire violation).”

The Lt Gen added, “Frankly speaking, there has been no instigation from across the border… We are totally prepared for ceasefire violation… if anything happens, we are all set to respond appropriately.”On the effect of the Taliban rise in Kashmir, Pandey said: “Why are you worried? You are safe and would be kept safe.”

He said if anyone picks up arms, they would face the consequences. “I am not looking at questions on the Taliban or foreign terrorists or local terrorists. For us, it has got nothing to do with the quality and quantity. If there is a gentleman who picks up a weapon, he will be neutralised either way — by getting killed or by getting apprehended, and if he comes and offers (to) surrender, we will take surrender,” he said.

Asked about the number of foreign militants in the Valley, the Lt Gen said that police estimated there were 60-70 of them, “who are basically Pakistanis”. “Their strategy is to not carry out any terrorist attack, but motivate the local youth to action and give them arms so that they are killed in encounters. It benefits them in a way when a young boy from our country, our Kashmir, is killed. His family becomes angry with us.”

However, the GoC said, as per his knowledge, this year “only about two (infiltration) attempts have been successful”.

Pandey said that while one had been in July, in Bandipore, a second attempt was suspected in Uri, and operations had been on for the past 24 hours to look for the infiltrators. “Are they on this side or have they gone back after making an attempt? That issue has not yet been clarified or verified on the ground,” the Lt Gen said.

The infiltration attempt had resulted in a shootout on the Line of Control, resulting in injuries to a soldier. On Monday, mobile and Internet links in Uri were shut down, to prevent infiltrating militants access to any local contacts.

Pandey added that while there had been other attempts too, these had not been backed by Pakistan through ceasefire violations, unlike previous years. The Lt Gen was speaking on the sidelines of a function to felicitate the first and second batch of the Army’s Kashmir Super 30 (Medical) course, who are now successfully enrolled in MBBS and other courses after clearing NEET. Since the initiative was launched in June 2018, 68 students have successfully undergone the programme, the Army said.

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