J&K Situation Improved After LoC Truce: Army Chief

Army chief General M.M. Naravane | File Photo

New Delhi: There has been no infiltration along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir after India and Pakistan agreed to observe a ceasefire in February and it has resulted in a significant drop in all parameters of violence, Army Chief General MM Naravane said on Thursday.

In an interactive session at a think-tank, Gen. Naravane also said there will always be elements who will try to sabotage the process of peace and development and the security forces will have to be mindful of this challenge.

In a sudden and significant move aimed at reducing tensions, the Indian and Pakistani armies announced on February 25 that they would cease firing across the LoC, while recommitting themselves to a 2003 ceasefire agreement.

The Chief of Army Staff said following the February ceasefire, the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has seen a "marked improvement".

"Since there is a ceasefire, there is no longer any infiltration. As there is no infiltration, the number of  militants in the valley is lesser and as the number of militants is lesser, the number of militancy-related incidents has also seen a drop," Gen. Naravane said.

"But there will always be elements who will try to sabotage the process of peace and development. We will have to cater for that. We have a strong counter-militancy and counter-infiltration grid in Jammu and Kashmir and our operations to that end to ensure peace and tranquillity will continue," he added.

The Army Chief said there were certain incidents of violence like firing at some state forces' picket or gunning down of some person.

"These kinds of incidents do continue. But overall, the sharp drop in all parameters of violence clearly indicates that the general population in Kashmir is all for peace and development," he said.

Going forward, the Army Chief said there is a need to focus more on creating conditions that are conducive to peace and development.

Asked about the possible impact on India of the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban increasing its influence in that country, Gen. Naravane declined to give a direct reply, saying the American drawdown is still underway.

"So in that front, we will have to wait and watch to see how it unfolds and how it impacts us," he said.

Asked about the recent drone attack on the Jammu Air Force station, he said, "I am sure that there would be some inimical elements who would not like peace to prevail in the Valley."

"Post the ceasefire, all the parameters of violence have dropped. So there was definitely a linkage between the support that the militants got from across the border and the levels of violence in the Kashmir valley," the Army Chief added.

Pakistan has been making concerted efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue. The neighbouring country stepped up an anti-India campaign after New Delhi announced in August 2019 its decision to withdraw the special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into Union territories.

India has told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence. The country has said the onus is on Pakistan to create such an environment.

‘Developing Capabilities To Deal With Drone Threats’

He said easy availability of drones has increased the complexity of security challenges and the Indian military is developing capabilities to effectively deal with the threats, be it from state-sponsored elements or by states themselves.

Gen Naravane said the security establishment is well aware of the challenges and certain measures have already been put in place to deal with them.

"We are developing capabilities to deal with the threats whether they are state-sponsored or by states themselves. We are developing capabilities to deal with drone threats both in the kinetic and non-kinetic realm," he said.

Gen Naravane was asked about the recent drone attack on Jammu Force Station.

On the situation along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the Army chief said there has been no infiltration along the LoC after a ceasefire understanding was reached between Indian and Pakistani militaries in February.

Since there is no infiltration, the number of  militants in Kashmir is lesser and so the number of militancy-related incidents also came down, he said.

"There will always be elements who will try to sabotage the process of peace and development; we have to cater for that," he said without elaborating.

"We have a strong counter-militancy and counter-infiltration grid in Jammu and Kashmir and our operation to ensure peace and tranquillity will continue," he said.

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