Chennai, Sep 23: The chief of Army staff General Bipin Rawat on Monday rejected claims of a clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir and asserted that it was a “facade put up by militants to project a false picture of harsh measures to the outside world.”
“In reality, the violence and killings were down and the militants were being kept at bay,” he told reporters.
“While communication lines are through for the people, there is a breakdown for handlers of militants in Pakistan and their associates in the valley,” he said.
“Also, arrangements are in place for the security forces to talk to their families and there is no communication breakdown,” he said.
Assuring further gradual easing of the situation, he said, “to say there is a clampdown, I don’t agree with this.”
Listing out a whole gamut of economic activities in the Kashmir valley, from “movement” of apple laden trucks to other parts of the country, operation of brick kilns and sand transportation through trucks after its procurement from the Jhelum river, he said “obviously people are coming out.”
Flights were being operated in and out of Srinagar and other modes of transport like taxis were functional, he said and wanted to know if these could happen in a lockdown scenario.
“You can go to apple orchards and you can see heaps of apples that have been plucked and packed into boxes and being transported out of valley…hundreds of trucks have come out. Who is plucking these apples? who is packing them into boxes, who is loading them into these trucks.? and who takes the trucks out from the valley,? he asked.
The Army chief wondered how all such economic activities could happen in a clampdown situation.
“How are people moving out? So this clampdown is a facade which is being created by terrorists who don’t want things to operate.”
“A facade has been created through a fear psychosis …by militants” and they want to project to the people of Kashmir and the rest of India that harsh measures were being undertaken which is not the truth and far from reality, he said.
On the claim of closure of shops, he said outlets were being operated through rear doors as militants “threaten the shopkeepers to down shutters.”
“They want to show and project to everybody outside that there is a clampdown. In reality, people are buying essential commodities like daal and rice and they are cooking food in their homes,” he added.
Hitting out at Pakistan for “state sponsored terrorism” and its “repeated attempts to push in militants”, especially after abrogation of Article 370, he said the neighbouring country carried out ceasefire violations to facilitate militants’ infiltration.
“…ceasefire violations are done to make our vigil fail…so these ceasefire violations keep happening.”
Asserting that the Army knew ways to deal with ceasefire violations, he said a mechanism is in place to protect soldiers from being hit by shelling during such times.
“In view of intelligence inputs, lots of incidents of violence were being prevented, which would have otherwise affected the life and property of people there,” he pointed out.
While soldiers man the borders, it is also important to incorporate technology in surveillance and a lot of emphasis is now being given for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, called ISR, he said.
“We are now developing better techniques to see how we can ensure the sanctity of our borders with the soldiers present there on the ground being empowered with technology in whatever form we can give to them,” he said.
Answering a query, he blamed disruptive elements for misrepresenting Islam, prompting sections of people to get swayed by it.
“I think it is important that we have preachers who convey the correct meaning of Islam…”, he said.
To a question on China and claims of border incursions, he said it was due to diferring perceptions of the Line of Actual Control.
“I think with China, we worked out some very good mechanisms on how to ensure peace and tranquility,” he said, recalling the first informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in China last year when an understanding was reached in respect of border perceptions.
The mechanisms worked out are functioning very well, he said adding whenever scope of escalation emerged, it was diffused through meetings at the level of border commanders.
‘Balakot camp reactivated’
Press Trust of India
Chennai: Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Monday said Pakistan has reactivated Balakot very recently and about 500 infiltrators were waiting to infiltrate into India.
“Balakot has been reactivated by Pakistan very recently. That shows that Balakot has been affected. It had been damaged and destroyed. And that is why people have got away from there and now it has been reactivated,” he told reporters at the Officers Training Academy here.
He said around 500 infiltrators were waiting to infiltrate into the country.
“…some action had been taken by Indian Air Force and now they have got the people back there,” he said.
Earlier, Indian Air Force had carried out attack at terror camps in Balakot in retaliation to the deadly attacks on CRPF personnel in Pulwama in February this year.
“Pakistan violates ceasefire to push militants into our territory. We know how to deal with ceasefire violations. Our troops know how to position themselves and take action. We are alert and will ensure that maximum infiltration bids are foiled,” he said.
Asked if the Army is planning another strike to counter the resurgence, General Rawat said, “Why should we repeat the same action? Why not go beyond that? Let them keep guessing.”
Northern Army Commander visits Siachen
Srinagar, Oct 20:Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command Sunday visited forward posts in Siachen Glacier. He was accompanied by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire & Fury Corps’.
“Complementing the troops deployed in the Sector for their dedication and perseverance, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that the nation is proud of the valour and sacrifices of the ‘Siachen Warriors’,” an army spokesperson said.
“He exhorted them to continue to uphold the high standards of professionalism and commitment, even while deployed in the face of extreme challenges posed by the highest battlefield in the world. He also laid a wreath at the Siachen War Memorial, as a mark of respect for the martyrs of Operation MEGHDOOT,” he added.
Lieutenant General Singh later visited ‘Heritage Abode’ – the residence of one of the greatest heroes of Ladakh, Late Colonel Chhewang Rinchen at Sumur Village in Nubra Valley.
Colonel Chhewang Rinchen was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra twice and a Sena Medal, for his acts of valour during the various battles fought in the Ladakh Sector. Paying his respects, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that Colonel Chhewang Rinchen will continue to inspire future generations of Indians.
No merger on cards, J&K Bank has strong fundamentals:Chhibber
Srinagar, Oct 20: Putting all the speculations about the J&K Bank’s merger at rest, J&K Bank Chairman and Managing Director R K Chhibber today stated, “The recent crisis of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank in the country has worried bank customers in general but the rumors of J&K bank’s merger by some vested interests has raised apprehensions among our depositors particularly in J&K. Let me put all those speculations at rest by assuring you that no merger is on the cards and the bank’s fundamentals are very strong.”
In a press statement, he further said, “Let me assure all the stakeholders of the bank that their beloved bank is in safe hands of more than 12000 strong J&K Bank family under the supervision and guidance of a professionally strong board of directors with a robust accountability framework in place for transparency and efficiency. The only way to go for the bank is up and above, towards higher levels of accomplishments.”
Commenting upon the effect of recent political developments in J&k upon the bank, he said, “We certainly believe that the recent developments that have taken place in state won’t affect the essence of this institution, which is to financially serve the people of J&K and catalyze the economic development of this region.J&K Bank has witnessed far bigger challenges in the past, and we believe, as always with the emotional equity of the people, support of J&K Government and unmatched commitment of our staff, we shall meet every challenge head-on and come out stronger and more successful.”
While reiterating that J&K Bank has strong fundamentals with all its major financial indicators performing well, the Chairman also asserted that few of the large loans, made some years ago that have turned Non Performing Assets (NPAs) and are being investigated; have been adequately provided for by the bank and shall have no impact on the profitability of the bank.
“Let me assure you that we are here to be with you and lead you towards a more promising and fulfilling economic future”, he said.
Reflecting upon the long and eventful journey of the bank, the Chairman said, “It has been a long, eventful and challenging journey of over eighty years that has shaped up not only this great institution but the very structure and the substance of J&K’s economy. For all this, we acknowledge and admit the instrumental role of our shareholders and customers whose unwavering trust and cooperation has been the guiding light for us during eight decades of our existence.”
Expressing his gratitude for the bank’s main stakeholders, Chairman said, “In particular we appreciate the unflinching support of our main stakeholders i.e.the J&K Government, the Board of Directors, and employees at large. J&K Government has always come forward to support the bank in all spheres and have already raised their stake to 59 pc in the bank by providing capital of Rs 532 Crfor business growth and regulatory requirement. Thegovernment has also indicated to extend additional capital support in near future to meet our Basel III capital requirements.”
Notably, thevery reason for the establishment of Jammu & Kashmir Bank by its founders in 1938 has been to empower the people of the state financially so that an era of development could be ushered in.Today we see that vision transformed into reality as J&K Bankleads from the front with market share of more than 65 pc, more than 12 million account holders from two million households and a total business around 1.65 lac Cr.
Market Intervention Scheme: Govt procures 1.5L apple boxes, disburses Rs 8 cr
Srinagar, Oct 19: Jammu and Kashmir government has procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes and paid around Rs 8 crore to growers under the ambitious Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) so far.
Launched last month in association with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), MIS was aimed at easing difficulties of the apple growers in the valley.
Director Horticulture, Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, said around 4000 growers have been registered under the scheme so far.
“We have procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes, which roughly comes to 2000 metric tonnes of fruit. We did business of around Rs 10 crore and almost Rs 8 crore have been disbursed to apple growers so far,” Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor.
Director Horticulture noted that there has been a good response since October 7, when government revised the rates of apples.
“As per government order, the payment has to be disbursed within three days after procurement of apple. Sometimes it may take five days. We will continue this scheme till December 15. It can be extended if need arises. This scheme is working in a hassle free manner and apple growers are benefitting,” he said.
The initial rates for A grade apple were Rs 52 per kilo, Rs 36 for B grade and Rs 15.75 for C grade apple. The revised rates for A grade apple are Rs 58 per kilo, Rs 42 for B grade and Rs 22 for C grade apple.
Bhat said six lakh metric tonnes of apple have been exported so far. This includes 2000 metric tonnes exported under market intervention scheme.
“Kashmir grows around 21 lakh metric tonnes of apple and over 25 percent has been exported so far. Most of the growers have exported apples on their own without benefitting from the scheme,” he said.
Kashmir’s fruit season starts in May when first crop of cherry is harvested. It is followed by pears and other fruits which hit the market in the following months. Apple is almost the last crop that hits the market in autumn. Bulk of the apples is exported to the markets in Delhi. Some of the crop is also sold in Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmadabad and other cities.
Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the sector. The horticulture contributes seven percent to the Gross State Domestic Product of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under the apple cultivation. Last year the fruit production including dry fruits touched 23.30 lakh tonnes last year compared to 22.34 lakh tonnes in 2017.
Jammu and Kashmir is the largest producer of apple in the country with production touching 18.28 lakh metric tonnes last year. The apple production was 17.27 lakh metric tonnes in 2017.