September 2004 News

No let up in Pak bid to push militants: Gen Vij

16 September 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Staff Correspondent

Jammu: There has been no let up in Pakistan’s bid to push militants in Jammu and Kashmir but fencing and stepped up vigil by troops have reduced infiltration to a large extent, Army Chief Gen N C Vij said here today. 'Border fencing, installation of modern gadgets and stepped up vigilance has helped in preventing infiltration from across the border appreciably even as there has been no let up from Pakistan in pushing ultras into Jammu and Kashmir', Gen Vij , who was here to present Presidential Colours to three battalions of JAKLI regiment, told reporters here. As many as 500 militants were waiting in wings at launching pads to cross over to Jammu and Kashmir from across the border, the Army Chief said adding that they were finding it difficult because of the vigilance maintained by the troops. Gen Vij said troops have intercepted 14,000 to 15,000 messages suggesting militants’ readiness to infiltrate into the Kashmir valley. Last year 250 infiltration bids were made during which 500 militants sneaked into the State, he said. In August this year, 27 infiltration bids were made and several such attempts were foiled by alert troops in June and July, Gen Vij said. 'We have information that not a single camp where militants are being trained across the border have been closed,' General Vij said. He said large number of militants, including foreigners, were getting training in handling sophisticated weapons and explosives in the training camps. General Vij said due to fencing and other measures, the infiltration from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) had come down. The fencing had proved very fatal for the infiltrators as they find it now very difficult to cross over to this side, he said adding the security forces were on a high alert to meet any challenge though reports suggest that the morale of militants was very low now after they find it difficult to sneak into this side. General Vij also cautioned that there was no room to relax as a large number of militants were waiting for a chance to cross the borders. When asked why there was no let up in the violence within the Valley even after the infiltration came down, the Army Chief said the militants operating within Jammu and Kashmir were now targeting innocent civilians. After failing to face the troops, they were hitting the soft targets, he said adding there were about 800 foreign militants in the woods and other areas within the State. In reply to a question he said the troops had been given three tasks— to stop infiltration, to eliminate foreign militants within the State and to provide all necessary facilities to public through civic works. The Army had started an operation last year when it began border fencing, Gen Vij said adding 'we have been able to check infiltration to a large extent and eliminate militants within the State. We have killed a large number of militants and brought their number down to almost half'. The operation against the militants would continue so as the level of violence was brought down to minimum, he said. The General dispelled the notion that the people of the Valley were not willing to be part of the Indian Army. ' When we had to raise some fresh battalions of JAKLI, some 50,000 young men turned up for seeking entry. Though we could select only 8,000 amongst them, the coming of youth in large numbers was a fair indication that the people in the Valley wish to join Indian Army', he elaborated. Gen Vij, who arrived here yesterday, visited forward areas on the Line of Control (LoC) and interacted with commanders and troops there. Asserting that Manorama Devi, whose death in the custody of Assam Rifles created furore in Manipur, had 'questionable credentials', the Army chief said there were reports of her 'underground' connections. She was from all accounts everyone knows that she was a mixed-up with the underground. There are reports available on that,' Gen Vij told to a reporters query. 'Even the State Chief Minister was on record having said this,' he added. Referring to the post-mortem report of Manorama which reportedly ruled out her rape in the custody, the Army chief said 'it has come out clearly that there is no rape and I think this is one fact which must reach everyone.' Strong protests were made by the locals after the body of 30-year-old Manorama Devi, who was picked up from her house by Assam Rifles after serving an arrest memo on July 10, was found on July 11. The incident also triggered a series of agitations against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and kept Manipur on boil for nearly one-and-a-half months.


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