Sunday, November 1, 2009

Agitational terrorism cause of concern: Lt-Gen Jaswal

GOC-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt-Gen BS Jaswal (AVSM, VSM) said today that “agitational terrorism” in the state and not militancy was an issue of concern at this juncture.

Addressing mediapersons at the first press conference in a year of the GOC-in-C, Northern Command, Lt-Gen Jaswal said terrorists were coercing and forcing people to take to the streets in the state, especially the valley.

“We have noted that many agitators were even paid for coming out on the streets and block roads. But people slowly understand they were the real sufferers. Agitational terrorism is being effectively handled,” he said, adding that he saluted people for showing resilience towards terrorists.

Kashmir has witnessed shutdowns for months owing to agitations on one issue or the other. “Terrorists have adopted a strategy that they support a mob and often take such steps to instigate a clash or a shootout between the security forces and mobsters.”

He allayed concerns in the country over tension between India and China by claiming both countries had a “mutual strategic trust” based on each other’s capability to respond to any aggression from across the border.

On Pakistan, he said though the morale of the Pakistani army was at an all-time low, an unstable Pakistan was not in the favour of India.

“We are prepared for any exigency and so far there is no threat perception of Taliban turning towards India, but trouble in Pakistan is not good for us,” he said. The GOC-in-Chief said the suicide rate in the Army was one of the lowest in the world.

“The Army has a suicide rate of 6.5 persons per lakh, the Northern Command has a rate of just 4.5 persons per lakh. The USA has 19.5, France 16 and Japan 15 persons per lakh.”

On the Army’s winter strategy to combat infiltration and terrorism, the Lt-Gen said a three-tier security system was in place to check infiltration. “Fencing often comes under snow, but all spots are well covered,” Lt-Gen Jaswal said.

He also denied any troops were being withdrawn from the state. “We calculate the security requirement and the troops are deployed or redeployed on that basis. For the last two years, there were no major incidents in Rajouri demanding redeployment,” he added.

Lt-Gen Jaswal rued that the state government had not taken due care of over 1,000 micro hydel power projects set up by the Army and handed over to it. “The state government has not taken over the management of hydel power projects. Many such projects are lying closed or defunct.”

He called for support of the soldiers on the ground. “A jawan has a split second to take a decision. If he will not shoot, he will be killed,” he said while referring to human rights violation complaints. “Only 35 out of over 1,500 such complaints have been found true,” he said.

Lt-Gen Jaswal also negated figures circulated in the media about the number of militants active in the state as well as those waiting at launching pads across the border. “Only five out of 100 intelligence reports are trusted. We don’t have the exact figures, but infiltration bids would be foiled,” he added.

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