• We won’t be cowed down by Fidayeen attacks
• Army prioritising security of small camps in vulnerable areas
• FIR against Major Aditya hasn’t dented Army’s morale
• Misuse of social media a 'time bomb' in JK
• Youth joining militancy a cause of concern
• No HR violation reported against Army in last year
• Pak, ISI directly involved in JK militancy
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen D Anbu, Wednesday said Army would continue pro-active strategy in the State and won’t be cowed down by fidayeen attacks.
"We are working as per our strategy and will continue to do so. I want to assure you that we are not going to be cowed down by small incidents, 'fidayeen' (suicide) attacks or other things. We are not going to derail from our main course of action," Anbu told reporters after presenting gallantry awards at an Investiture Ceremony here.
The officer presented 39 Sena Medals and the 'Unit Appreciation' to 26 units for their outstanding performance in 2017.
He said that "pro-active" strategy in the aftermath of the 2016 Uri militant attack will continue as the Indian Army has dominated Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Anbu said that over three times more casualties had been inflicted on the adversary last year.
"Pakistan and its ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) is directly involved in militancy not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also in neighboring countries, as without its support, training and strategy, militancy would not have lasted so long," he said.
On the Sunjuwan militant strike in the state on Saturday, he said, "It is the frustrated enemy (Pakistan) which does involve itself in such activities when it is not able to face us on the borders."
"It is but natural that the enemy is on the receiving end and looks for the easier alternative. While immediately behind the borders we have strengthened ourselves and we are very well prepared, it picked up soft targets," he said.
The officer said that “you cannot have the same security like in borders at areas which are peaceful.” "I will not accept a single lapse on the border because it is supported to be protected. The Army spent almost Rs 364 crore on different things to build up the security of the soft elements on the LoC," the officer said.
"We got our acts together as far as surveillance, sentry duty and drills and other things are concerned besides the intelligence," he said.
The operations and the management of the LoC was quite complex, challenging and dynamic, and that over the past one year, things evolved continuously, Anbu said
"We have adapted to it very well and in the whole year, we have dominated the adversary. It has been a pro-active action after the Uri incident and we have not looked back," Anbu said.
Militants on September 18, 2016, had stormed a battalion headquarters of the Army in North Kashmir's Uri town in the early hours, killing 17 army men and injuring 20 other personnel.
On the casualties suffered by Pakistan in the retaliatory action to ceasefire violations, the officer said, "You do not come to know what is the damage caused across the border because our adversary does not believe in accepting the casualties. We are in a very dominating position."
Though some media reports suggest 192 fatal casualties were suffered by Pakistan along the LoC, the Army is not going to put a figure because of the simple reason that Pakistan has only admitted to 13 casualties, he said.
"However, through various sources, reports and assessments, it is three times more than what we have suffered. These are conservative estimates on our part, but it is much more," Anbu said.
The officer said that the Army was prioritising security of small camps in vulnerable areas and those which need immediate attention.
"The government has also came up with certain funds and I am sure we will be able not only to have a physical fence but also technology assist it," he said.
The officer said the Army's endeavor was to ensure "zero infiltration".
"Infiltration does take place. We endeavor to ensure zero infiltration that is our job and we put our best effort," he said.
The officer said that there was considerable reduction in infiltration, but the number of attempts almost doubled in 2007 compared to the previous year.
"This was the reason we were able to eliminate more (militants) last year. Their attempt is to keep the pot boiling," he said.
He said the militants present at training camps and launching pads are being pushed into this side. “If we take south and north of PirPanjal, 185 to 220 are always present in south and 195-220 continue to remain in north”.
Army Commander also said that the force does not communalize, in response to AIMIM chief AsaduddinOwaisi's pointing out that Kashmiri Muslims had laid down their lives in the Sunjuwan attack.
The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command's comment came a day after the AIMIM chief slammed those questioning the patriotism of Muslims and Kashmiri Muslims.
Four Kashmiri were among the six Army men killed in the attack on the 36 Brigade of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry camp in Sunjuwan on Saturday.
"We take on the religion of our troops and we do not communalise any of them. There is 'sarva dharma sthal' in every formation. Go to Badamibagh (a cantonment in Srinagar) or Udhampur (the Northern Command headquarters) or even my residence," the officer said.
"It is only for people who do not know the inside functioning of the armed forces. They are the one who are actually making such statements," he said, adding "they need to visit us to see themselves how we put everything aside and live together".
The Hyderabad MP yesterday had also said the so-called "9 pm" nationalists (those who appear in prime time tv debates) question the nationalism of Muslims and Kashmiri Muslims.
"In this (Sunjuwan attack) incident, the Kashmiri Muslims have laid down their lives. Why aren't you talking about it? This is a reminder to all those nationalists who question my integrity and the love for this country," the AIMIM chief said.
"The people of Jammu and Kashmir have shown (by participating in large numbers in the funeral prayers of the army men)... it is a testimony for all those who wanted to communalise it," the officer told reporters here.
On the impact of filing of an FIR against Major Aditya Kumar over the killing of three youths in south Kashmir's Shopian district last month, he said, "I am heading the Northern Command and I can say it with confidence that the issue of Major Aditya has not dented the morale of my troops, not even a bit, not even an iota."
"I can say it with confidence because I meet them, I move around and I speak through my commanders and know the pulse," he said.
The officer said that there were no human rights (HRs) violation reported against the Army in the last one year.
"In the last one year, you have not seen any human rights violations taking place. That is (because of the) direction from me to the commanders. You will not find any one of them willfully indulging in it. Our intentions are clear so there is nothing to worry about," he said.
However, Anbu said that the case was sub-judice and would take its course.
"The Defence minister had made a statement during her visit to Jammu that the government and the ministry of defence are totally behind the soldiers and armed forces," he said.
In response to a question about an insiders’ role in the Sunjuwan militant attack and any plans to shift the training centre of the regiment from Srinagar, Anbu said, "I am in auniformed force and do not distinguish the personnel under my command. We do not work like that in the Indian Army."
"Someone who joins us gets motivated by our ethos and functioning, even if he is not motivated before. There is no doubt in my mind and our organisation is very strong. The new recruits mould into our system," he said.
The Army commander said the local Kashmiri youths were being engaged via the medium from across the border on a minute-to-minute basis.
He said social media was playing a big role in the increase of violence in the state.
"The reach of the social media is so large and as such it is a time bomb for everybody," the Army commander said.
He, however, expressed hope that the Army would be able to reverse the trend, but said everybody - including the civil society - has a role to play in curbing the violence.
"HizbulMujahideen, LeT and JeM are hand in glove with each other after coming together in the later part of last year," Lt Gen Anbu told reporters here.
"(But) It will be taken care of," the Army commander said.
Lt Gen Anbu attributed the increase in violence to the euphoria generated after the death of Hizbul commander BurhanWani, who was killed in a security operation in July 2016.
Months-long unrest had followed his killing.
"The curve (of violence) will take a while to come down," he said.
Referring to the media reports that said the Army was unable to visit certain pockets in Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama in south Kashmir last year, the Army commander said the situation has changed for good over time, and not only the Army, even the political leadership and elected members are freely moving in the areas.
"We reached out to the people as well as the militants. When you carry out more operations, the tempo will be more so the contact with militants leading to their elimination. Some people also get killed or injured in the bargain.
"You will not find any terrorist initiated action happening... We want the situation to come under control. When you sustain the tempo for a longer period, it will come down. You cannot have a short-term solution and jump to any conclusion," he said.
On stone-pelting incidents to hamper counter-insurgency operations, Lt Gen Anbu said the mechanism to keep people away from encounter sites has paid well.
"The system worked... When the operation is a planned one the stone-pelting is being tackled by police and CRPF but when the operation is sudden the Army columns do come under stone pelting," he said.
On the trend of local youths joining militant groups, he said it is a cause of concern for all of us.
"When we are looking at terrorism as a whole per se, we look at three things - we need to stop infiltration from across the border, in the hinterland, whosoever is already there we need to eliminate them. And the third, the capability to induce the locals which is being the latest trend for the last couple of years which we need to arrest.