BHADERWAH/ JAMMU – Militants in Kashmir are facing a shortage of arms which is why they try to snatch or loot weapons from SPOs and police stations, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said on Friday.
He said Pakistan is in a fix over the situation and is trying different ways to send in the weapons.
Speaking to mediapersons in Bhaderwah, Singh also refuted reports about infiltration of Afghan militants into the valley.
Militants are facing a shortage of weapons in Kashmir. So they try to snatch weapons from Special Police Officers (SPO) or loot them from police stations, the Army commander said.
Even Pakistan has been caught in a difficult situation so it uses various ways to provide weapons to the terrorists in Kashmir, he said.
Responding to questions about reports of Afghan militants infiltrating into Kashmir, Singh said they have not been corroborated.
He said that the Army’s counter-infiltration grid is very strong and the force is alert to foil any such attempts.
If at all any infiltrators manage to cross over, they will be eliminated, he added.
Asked about the militant training camps and launch pads along the Line of Control (LoC), Singh said, “We are able to thwart the infiltration bids at the LoC itself. It is a multi-tier grid. If they (militants) pass through the first tier, they will get caught up in second tier or may be in the following ones.”
He said because the anti-infiltration grid is very strong along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, so the infiltration is taking place from other borders of the country.
Later, he added, the militants try to enter Jammu and Kashmir from Lakhanpur.
Speaking about surgical strikes, the Army commander said they remain an option.
“It (the option of surgical strikes) is available to the Indian armed forces,” he said.
Which option has to be exercised when will depend on the situation and the manner in which the Army would like to surprise. The Army is fully prepared to take on any challenge depending on the conditions and the opportunities, he said.
Responding to a question about protests by locals along the LoC in Pakistan, Singh said, “Our warning still continues. If any of the people, with support of the Pakistani army, cross the LoC to enter into this side, they will get a befitting reply. Our strategy is very clear about it.”
He said the soldiers and the officers have been given clear directions about this.
“You must have seen that when some people assembled across the LoC some days ago in Pakistan-(controlled) Kashmir, the local police and the army stopped them and sent them back,” he said.
Singh said the Army, based on intelligence inputs, keeps modifying its security grid in Jammu’s Pir Panchal to prevent a return of militancy in areas to its south.
According to intelligence inputs, over 60 armed militants have infiltrated along LoC in Kashmir Valley and over 20 militants from LoC areas falling in south of Pir Panchal areas in the last two months.
The Army commander said there were reports about militants moving around Doda few days ago. The Army neutralised all of them in an operation in Batote.
“We call upon the people to ensure that militancy does not return to this region. We have seen the dividends of peace,” he said.
He said nearly 500 militants were waiting in various training camps along the Line of Control in PcK, looking for opportunities to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir.
He also said 200 to 300 militants are operating in hinterland of J&K to “keep the region in turmoil with Pakistan’s support.”
“As far as militants operating within Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, 200 to 300 militants, who have come here, joined militants here,” he said.
Singh said this it in reply to questions about the number of militants operating in J&K and those in PcK ready to infiltrate into the country.
“Like this, nearly 500 militants are staged in militants’ training camps in (PcK) and are ready to infiltrate into J&K,” said Lt Gen Singh.
He said these figures keep changing as per their training schedule.
“Whatever be the number, we are capable to stop and eliminate them to ensure peace and normalcy in this region,” he added.