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Terrorists were pushed into JK after quake: Army

Source: PTI
Last updated on: January 19, 2006 13:06 IST
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Taking advantage of the situation arising from the October earthquake and the large-scale relief and rehabilitation efforts, terrorists have been pushed into Jammu and Kashmir from the Pakistan side, Army Chief General J J Singh has said.

"Intelligence inputs reveal that some terrorists were pushed across the Line of Control in the weeks following the earthquake taking advantage of our preoccupation in the relief efforts," the Chief of Army Staff said in an interview to the premier journal, Indian Defence Review. In the aftermath of the devastating quake, "..the army willingly came forward for the establishment of five crossing points on the LoC, as part of the national policy, to provide relief to people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir", he said.

These actions, Singh said, were aimed at giving fillip to the ongoing dialogue process and to elicit positive response from Pakistan in putting an end to the proxy war. "Unfortunately, that was not to be and the infiltration continues unabated," he said. Elaborating on the 'Iron Fist in Velvet Glove' policy adopted by the army in Jammu and Kashmir, he said it had led the security forces to reap rich dividends.

Besides inflicting severe attrition on the terrorist cadres, the army has earned tremendous goodwill of the people of the state. The army's actions were "fully in sync with the approach being adopted in the ongoing dialogue process," Singh said. "The force levels in J&K are under constant review and any reduction will be influenced by the overall security environment," he said.

The army chief in the interview covered vast areas, from the situation on the borders, to his objectives for the army, its modernisation plans, besides problems and challenges before the armed forces. On the situation on the border with China, he said it continued to "remain peaceful and well under control" and added that the confidence-building measures, worked out in April 2005 and the additional ones being evolved now, would enhance mutual trust.

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Efforts were also being undertaken at the government level to resolve the boundary issue. "Notwithstanding this, we are keeping abreast with the military related activities along our border and are taking adequate measures to maintain the requisite level of operational preparedness," Singh said.

Observing that the situation along the borders with Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka was being monitored, he said, "We are in constant touch with the concerned ministries and integrated strategies are being evolved to safeguard our national interests and security concerns." To questions on the "serious officer shortages at the unit level" of the army, Singh said, "The deficiency level is about 25 per cent and not 50 per cent as perceived by the media." Of the total authorisation of 46,565 officers, the Indian Army was holding 34,854 officers on date, the shortfall being 25.12 per cent.

The army chief said though the pay packets of officers did not match that of a multinational company, the army officers enjoyed a decent living besides high respect and standing in modern society. He said several steps are being taken to improve the service conditions of officers further.
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