Infiltration, Militancy Down To Minimum Level In J&K
28 September 2007
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Infiltration and militancy levels in Jammu and Kashmir and north east have been brought down to 'minimum levels', Army Chief General J J Singh said today, hinting at the possibility of reduction of troops. 'Situation is fast coming to normal and grounds have been created for a final settlement of these issues,' he said adding, if the present trend continued ,it could mean troops going back to their primary task of securing the nation's border. 'Iron fist and velvet gloves policy is a resounding success,' Singh told reporters as he prepares to lay down office in two days. He disclosed that security forces' casualties were reduced to one-third of what they used to be few years ago, saying that Army had been able to achieve a much higher attrition rate in the battle against militants. 'In the conflict- prone areas of Kashmir and north-east, the levels of violence have been considerably brought down. People have rejected terrorism and there is now a wish to lead a peaceful life,' the Army Chief said at a farewell function where he handed over the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee baton to the Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta. 'We have been able to overcome the challenge of militants,' he said adding, beyond this, it was not a military problem, but a politico-social issue which was being addressed by the Central and State Governments. The outgoing Army Chief attributed the fall in levels of violence and infiltration to surgical strikes carried out by the security forces. 'Our operations are based on sound intelligence inputs and support of the people'. 'Our policy of iron fist and velvet gloves is not only being acclaimed internally, but being seriously examined by all other militaries facing similar challenges,' Singh said. 'If you win the hearts and minds, you have won half the battle,' he said adding, 'we are projecting no-nonsense approach to terrorists, while at the same time trying to reach out to the public'. While keeping up the pressure on militants, Singh said, large sections of the Army as well as Air Force and Navy were training hard to absorb new high- technology weapon systems and platforms to keep the forces on full preparedness to meet any contingency. The pace of modernisation in the Army is at 'full swing'. The forces are now armed with high- technology systems, have acquired full night fighting capabilities and a good training in using precision-guided munitions. 'Our armed forces are now adept at use of fire power rather than manpower,' he said. Singh also said specialised formations raised recently like the strategic forces command, armed to handle the country's nuclear and missile arsenal, Tri-Service Command based at Andamans and the Integrated Defence Staff had acquired fair degree of potency. While modernisation drive was being implemented at good pace in the Army, care was being taken to ensure that high technology being introduced in weaponry was absorbed by the personnel to ensure its optimal exploitation, Singh said. 'We have come a long way from Kargil war,' he said. He said there was no political pressure or interference on sealing defence deals. 'There is no political pressure to reject or accept any weapons systems,' Singh said when asked if political pressure was behind the recent rejection of new range of 155mm .52 calibre guns from the Swedish firm bofors, after the gun had passed four validation tests. 'The guns did not meet out technical parameters and we have to foolproof validation as it is a matter of life and death for us,' he said. On the Arjun Main Battle Tanks, Singh said recent trials had seen the tanks performing excellently. 'We are going ahead with induction of the 124 Arjun tanks as cleared by the Government. These tanks would used in the terrain most suitable for them', he said. On the A V Singh Committee report recommending creation of more posts of Major Generals and higher ranks in all the three services and on the submission to be put before the Sixth Pay Commission, the Army Chief advocated a joint case being put up by the three services.