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Indian Army in touch with Nepal developments: General J J Singh

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
April 20, 2006 20:47 IST
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Chief of Army Staff General J J Singh refused to comment on the political situation in Nepal saying that it would not be  proper to do so when the prime minister's envoy is still in the Himalayan kingdom and holding talks with the government there.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, General Singh said that the army was in touch with the developments in Nepal and it has conveyed its views to government of India. "No comments," he said in response to a question whether there is a case of direct intervention by India in Nepal where the conditions are deteriorating day by day.

"Nepal is our neighbouring country and we have age old ties socially, culturally, and the peace and stability in that country is of great interest to India," he added.

The chief of the army staff ruled out demilitarisation of three districts of Kashmir and the withdrawal of the army units as  demanded by Pakistan.

"There cannot be demilitarisation without disengagement of the two armies from their positions on the border. Demilitarisation is the second step," he said making it abundantly clear that there is no plan to move out troops from Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramulla.

He claimed that despite seven grenade attacks in one day last week, the level of violence in Jammu and Kashmir has gone down substantially.

"The terrorists have been using grenades and attacking soft targets in towns which are under the control of the paramilitary forces. There is no direct engagement of troops in recent times by the terrorists. The number of soldiers killed in action has come down as well. In 2005 we accounted for 863 terrorists and lost 115 soldiers in comparision to 870 terrorists killed in action in 2004 and the loss of 160 soldiers," he said. He confirmed that the terror structure across the border was very much in place. So are the terrorists organisations.

Talking about Siachen glacier, General Singh said that the views of the army including security concerns have already been given to the government of India and hoped that the government would keep them in mind while taking forward  the composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan.

General Singh said that Indo-China relations in the field of defence are improving considerably and officers from India have gone to China to attend some of their army courses. Conversely their officers have been present during the exercises undertaken by the Indian Army. "Northern border is good. We have had joint expeditions in sports," he said.

He made it amply clear that the Indian Army would not tolerate exaggerated claims for recommending bravery awards.

"We have introduced negative markings while looking at performance. We will come down heavily. Death in custody, fake killings would not be tolerated. When incidents happened, we did not make stories to hide truth. We have taken action against those who erred thereby giving a humane face for innocent civilians and an iron face for the terrorists," he said.

He said that an advisory would be issued to serving officers not to mix with those retired officers who take up jobs for foreign companies to sell goods to the Indian army.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi