Terror Infrastructure Intact In PoK, 700 Militants Still Active In Valley: Gen Sikhon
1 November 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: General Officer Commanding 15 Corps in Kashmir valley, Lt Gen A S Sikhon, today said that 700 to 800 militants were still active in Kashmir valley even as their infrastructure of training and cross- border infiltration was existing in parts of Pakistan and Pakistan- administered Kashmir. He asserted that by taking action against the erring soldiers, Army had considerably improved its quality of working in the worst hit Kashmir valley over the last 17 years of insurgency. In an interaction with mediapersons after delivering his keynote address on the subject of human rights at Victor Force headquarters at Awantipore, Gen Sikhon said that infiltration of Pakistan-trained militants into the Valley was going on at a level inspite of successful operations by security forces. He said that the terror infrastructure, including training camps of different guerrilla groups, were still existing in parts of Pakistan and PoK. He revealed that according to the credible reports available with Defence authorities, a large number of trained militants were either attempting to infiltrate into the Valley or were waiting for their turn at the training camps. He referred to two of last night's incidents on the LoC in Kupwara district and said that four infiltrators had been intercepted and killed in separate gunbattles. According to informed sources in north Kashmir, a group of seven militants had successfully infiltrated through Machhil sector in Kupwara district last night. While two of them got killed in an encounter with troops of 9-Jat and RR 56 Bn at Kainaar, two more died in another gunbattle with troops of 6-Grenadiers in the nearby Gogalnaar between Machhil and Keran sub sectors, close to LoC. Troops had launched a wider operation in search of three more militants of the group who are believed to have escaped but still hiding in the same area. Gen Sikhon said that according to field intelligence reports, some 700-800 militants were still active in Kashmir valley. He said that Hizbul Mujahideen was still predominantly present in parts of south Kashmir and the organisation had a number of trained militants at its camps in PoK. Gen Sikhon said that security forces were being sensitised to regard for human rights and the soldiers were being prosecuted and punished wherever they were found involved in the abuse of human rights. He said that as many as 85 officers and soldiers had received punishment, including dismissal from service and imprisonment, after charges were established against them in civil courts or Army's own courts of inquiry. He made a special mention of the last ten months and said that not a single incident of custodial killing or fake encounter had taken place in the current year. Gen Sikhon said that proceedings of court marshal were underway against two soldiers who had been found involved in trespassing into a civilian's house, leading to allegation of attempted molestation against them. Referring to the recent incident of killing of a Rehbar- e-Taleem in Kupwara district, Corps Commander said that one of the accused soldier had already been removed from duty and held in detention and the process of investigation was in progress. He said that exemplary punishment under law would be given to anybody found responsible for killing the civilian. He said that the Court of Inquiry had already recorded statements of several witnesses. As regards Defence Minister A K Antony's public statement that troops would vacate all occupied civilian structures latest by November 30th in Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Sikhon sought to make it clear that security forces had already vacated all educational institutions besides a number of Health Department's buildings. He asserted that all residential buildings and the State Government's structures would be vacated as soon as possible in keeping with instructions from the Government of India. A large number of officers drawn from different units and battalions of Victor Force in Anantnag, Pulwama and Budgam districts besides a multitude of mediapersons also participated in today's seminar.