Time Not Ripe For Troops Withdrawal From J&K: GoC-in-C
16 June 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Udhampur: As the militant training camps in Pakistan are still intact and the perpetrators of 'Jehad' across the border have not changed their agenda, there is no reason to pull out troops from Jammu and Kashmir, northern command's general officer Commanding-in-Chief Lt Gen H S Panag said here today. Maintaining that army was having no 'individual interest' in deployment of troops in the state, lt Gen Panag told mediapersons that the deployment of forces would automatically reduce when the security situation improves. 'Since the perpetrators of 'Jehad' are making statements (of United Jehad Council (UJC) Chief Syed Salahuddin) that there is no change in their agenda and also the presence of 52 militant training camps across the border, we can't say situation is appropriate for troops withdrawal,' the Army commander said. Elaborating on the deployment of total 337,000 Army personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, 'that only 25 per cent are into in depth counter-insurgency operations within the state.' Of rest, 45 to 50 per cent are deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) and Actual Line of Control (ALC) to counter- infiltration and remaining are at permanent locations (Garrisons), including support services, lt Gen Panag said. 'So, only 25 per cent (75,000-80,000) soldiers can be pulled out of state while rest would have to be there.' On the strength of militants active in the state, the army commander said, that the data from various agencies have revealed the headcount of terrorists at 1,140.' To A query on at Qaeda's links with Lashkar-E-Toiba (LET) and Jaish-E-Mohammad (JeM) militant outfits operating in Kashmir, Lt Gen Panag said intelligence agencies were investigating such links but nothing had been proved so far. 'However, on the other side of border, it is a known fact that they (Militant Outfits) have been training and assisting each other,' he added. When asked about the increased infiltration from across the border, Lt Gen Panag said it was 'marginal' 'We are trying to check it' he added. Elaborating on the reasons behind increased infiltration (137 in the first six months as compared to 118 during the corresponding period last year), he said the fence along the LOC was damaged due to heavy snowfall in Kashmir valley. 'The repair work is going on full swing and fence would be repaired by June 30,' he asserted.