Udhampur: The Army's northern commander Lt Gen Y K Joshi on Saturday said the agreement between India and Pakistan to strictly adhere to the ceasefire pact along the Line of Control (LoC) would have no bearing on the counter-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the northern command, which looks after the security of the twin union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, remained on the highest alert and made possible what was believed impossible by the bravery, grit and determination of its personnel in the face of challenging situations along the border.
'Recently, the Director General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan have announced an agreement to uphold ceasefire along the LoC from February 24 and 25 midnight. I want to assure that this ceasefire will have no bearing on the counter-militancy operations and we will maintain our alertness,' Lt Gen Joshi said at the northern command investiture ceremony here.
During the ceremony, the Army commander presented two Bar to Sena medals (gallantry) and 50 Sena medals (gallantry) to the brave soldiers.
He also presented three Sena medals (distinguished) and six Vishisht Seva medals for selfless service to the nation.
Lt Gen Joshi also awarded unit appreciation to 26 units for their overall outstanding performance in the command theatre.
'The northern command has always stood like a shield against the attempts by our neighbouring countries to spread disturbance and it will continue to remain so in the future. Whenever anyone raises an evil eye on our country, Indian Army has replied strongly,' Lt Gen Joshi said.
Without naming China and Pakistan, he said Indian Army has maintained its domination on its borders with the neighbouring countries and helped in maintaining peace in the hinterland.
Referring to the eastern Ladakh standoff with the Chinese army, he said Indian Army stood up to the challenge on the snow-capped mountains of the Line of Actual Control during the challenging situation in 2020 and maintained the highest alert.
'Our action is a glaring example of our training, bravery and pledge (to safeguard the borders) and it will be written in history with golden words. The northern command made possible what seemed impossible. The success of the operation (in Ladakh) is the glaring example of the bravery of Indian Army,” he said.
He said 2020 was historic in many ways for the Army which demonstrated its mettle in eastern Ladakh by its 'grit, determination, self-confidence, bravery and steadfastness'.
He said there has been a tremendous improvement in the basic deployment and preparedness and the efforts in this direction will continue. “The measures we have put in to strengthen our defences, the same efforts were made to maintain peace,” he said.
In Kashmir, he said, the overall security situation saw a great improvement in the previous year as there has been a considerable reduction in militant-initiated incidents, stone-pelting activities and protests as a result of tireless efforts of the security forces and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the Army also played a key role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
'Under 'Seva Paramo Dharma', Army doctors, nursing staff, ambulance and medical corps staff without caring for their lives worked round-the-clock and are continuously doing so,' he said.
He congratulated those who were decorated for their bravery and conveyed his heartfelt gratitude to the brave men who made the supreme sacrifice on the borders, including at Galwan Valley, and in the battle against internal security challenges.
Lt Gen Joshi urged all ranks, ex-servicemen, civilians and their families to rededicate themselves to the cause of the nation.
Will Show 'Max Restraint' If Pak Violates Truce: Army
Meanwhile Indian Army on Saturday said it will exercise maximum restraint in case of any violation of the understanding by the other side.
Welcoming the agreement arrived at between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries, a top Army officer said the decision was significant as it would bring relief to the people living near the LoC.
"We will not retaliate as long as it is possible and we hope that the Pakistani side will also uphold the agreement," General Officer Commanding (GoC), 28 Infantry Division, Major General V M B Krishnan told reporters in Kupwara, about 100 km north of Srinagar, when asked about the directions for the Army in case Pakistan violated the ceasefire agreement.
The 28 Infantry Division covers the Tangdhar, Keran, Machil (in Kupwara district) and Gurez (in Bandipora) sectors along the LoC.
"We welcome the ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan. We hope it ushers in an era of peace, security and development to the villages close to the LoC," Maj. Gen. Krishnan said.
He also expressed hope that the infiltration from across the LoC is "shut down" by Pakistan.
The GoC said the reiteration of the ceasefire agreement is a significant decision as it will bring a lot of relief to the people of about 300 villages located very close to the LoC.
"It will now enable these people to go about their daily lives.... It is important for us to have peace and security in our region so that development can take place," he said.
Saying if peace and tranquillity prevail along the LoC, it will help build mutual trust and confidence between the two neighbouring countries, the GoC asserted that the ceasefire agreement is the first step towards that.
"(But) we have a fair amount of distance to cover. I hope militancy gets absolutely diminished and eliminated in the next couple of years. So we have to take all these steps for many things to happen in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
Maj. Gen. Krishnan said the LoC has been tranquil for the last two days as there has been no violation and "it is very quiet".
However, he said the Army continues to receive inputs about the presence of militants at some launchpads across the LoC.
"We are on high alert and fully prepared to foil any infiltration attempt," he added.
Asked about the possible impact of the agreement on infiltration attempts from across the border, the GoC said when there are no ceasefire violations, "it does enable us to handle the situation very well".
However, infiltration attempts are very much possible, especially given the rugged terrain of the area, he added.
The Army officer said while drones were spotted in the airspace on the Indian side of the LoC, there have been no instances of weapons-dropping.
"We have shot at them and sent them back," he added.
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