July 2005 News

Troop Reduction In J&K To Be Reviewed: Pranab

15 July 2005
The Daily Excelsior

Bangalore: Troop reduction in Jammu and Kashmir, carried out last year, would be reviewed in the wake of fresh infiltration bid in Guerez near LoC, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today adding he was keeping 'fingers crossed' about the near future. 'It is in September- October that infiltration bids were made by militants across the LoC following the melting of snow in the mountains,' he said adding 'I am keeping my fingers crossed. September is more dangerous.' 'We will do something about it after making a hard assessment of the situation,' he said. Bad weather was hampering the operation to flush out infiltrators from the snow-bound Gurez sector near the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, he told reporters on board a special aircraft. Dismissing suggestions that the infiltration attempt smacked of another Kargil in the making, Mukherjee said a 'mountain should not be made out of a molehill'. Mukherjee said the Gurez encounter 'substantiates' India's position that infrastructure on 'the other side of the border' for sending militants is intact. He, however, said the infiltration would not impact the ongoing peace process with Pakistan. Confirming that the bodies of eight infiltrators had been identified, Mukherjee said the Chief of the Army Staff was apprehensive that 'there may be some more (infiltrators). But I don't think that anyone of them will be able to escape. It would be possible to get them all.' 'This (infiltration) substantiates the point I have been repeatedly making that the infrastructure for launching the infiltrators on the other side of the border is intact.' Mukherjee said External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh had 'indicated' about location of terrorist camps to Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz during a recent meeting in Kazakhastan. He said it was the 'psychology' of extremists and terrorists to try to disrupt the peace process or normalisation process whenever it is started. 'Whenever a foreign visitor comes or there is a major national event,' the terrorists would try to 'cause some action' to draw the attention of the international community, he said. 'We should not fall into the trap,' he said, maintaining that the peace process with Pakistan would continue. To a query, he said infiltration could not be stopped within a definite timeframe. 'You cannot expect that one fine morning, it will stop,' he said, emphasising that infiltration was a 'non-declared war' and a 'low intensity war'. On the ongoing operation in Gurez sector, he said it was the 'most difficult area' and there was heavy rains and snow. He said there was information that 'some infiltrators' had crossed the LoC and they were challenged by the armed forces who tried to encircle them but were fired upon. It took some time to complete the process of encirclement. He said no timeframe could be set to complete the ongoing operation. On the Scorpene submarine deal, he said there was likely to be a 're-think' on the proposed deal and the matter was lying with the CCS. 'The price has to be renegotiated,' he said adding 'Any platform or equipment we procure will be as per the procurement policy. There are proposals under consideration. If it meets our requirements and procurement policy, it will be done.' Commenting on the proposed buying of F-16 fighter Aircraft, Mukherjee said it would depend on the Air Force. However, I am more interested in 'co-production' and not direct buying, he said.


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