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.”
No power can stop KPs from returning to Kashmir: Rajnath
Mangaluru, Jan 27: No power can now stop Kashmiri Pandits from going back to Kashmir, defence minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday, forcefully defending the NDA government’s decision to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir and abrogating its special status under Article 370.
In an address at a rally, the defence minister also sent a strong message to Pakistan and said India will not let anyone live in peace if it is harmed.
“We will not touch anyone, but if someone bothers us, then we are not going to let them live in peace,” he said.
Referring to the exodus of a large number of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in the late 1990s at the height of militancy, Singh said no power now can stop them from returning to their homes.
On the Citizenship Amendment Act, the minister said it is not a law to hurt the sentiments of any religion but to give relief to victims of religious persecution.
“Mahatma Gandhi had told Nehru to give citizenship to minorities like Hindus and Sikhs if they come to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fulfilled that vision by bringing in the law,” Singh said.
On several non-BJP states refusing to implement the CAA, the defence minister said it it is a central law and everyone should follow it.
Accusing the Congress of misleading people on the issue, he said the party should not forget its duty towards the nation just because it is in opposition.
More snow, rains from today
Srinagar, Jan 27: The local meteorological department has predicted yet another spell of rains and snow in Kashmir from Tuesday, even as minimum temperatures settled above the freezing point on Monday, providing some relief to the people.
In a statement, the MeT department predicted widespread moderate rains and snow on Tuesday which will dwindle to scattered places by Wednesday.
“Generally cloudy sky to widespread light to moderate rain/snow from night of 27th January. Widespread moderate rain and snow for the next two days,” read the MeT statement.
On Monday, Srinagar recorded a minimum temperature of 0.6 degrees Celsius, up from the minus 0.2 degrees Celsius on Sunday, a MET official said.
He said the night temperature in the city was above the freezing point for the first time in recent days and it was 1.6 degrees above normal for this part of the season.
In Qazigund the gateway town to the valley in south Kashmir the minimum settled at a low of 0.8 degrees Celsius an increase of 1.5 degrees from the previous night’s minus 0.7 degrees Celsius.
The night temperature in Pahalgam tourist resort in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 10.4 degrees Celsius down over seven degrees from the minus 3 degrees Celsius on Sunday and Pahalgam was the coldest recorded place in the Kashmir Valley, the official added.
The ski-resort of Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, registered a minimum of minus 10.2 degrees Celsius, the official added.
The night temperature in Kokernag in south settled at a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara in north recorded a low of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius, the official said.
Leh in Ladakh Union Territory recorded a low of minus 18.4 degrees Celsius, he said, adding the nearby Drass registered a minimum of minus 27.8 degrees Celsius.
Nixing Sher-e-Kashmir from awards political vendetta: NC
Srinagar, Jan 27: National Conference Monday took strong exception to axing of the name of Sheikh Abdullah from various J&K police gallantry awards, saying the measure has taken vendetta to a higher level.
During a meet of party functionaries here, the NC leaders and workers unanimously condemned the axing of ‘Sher-e-Kashmir from J&K Police gallantry awards.
“It is a calibrated effort to trim every single symbol of J&K’s political individuality. The present ruling dispensation in Delhi heaving with subjective prejudices and complexes against ideals revolving around the Indian constitution and the spirits of its accommodative federalism hasn’t ceased its witch hunt against everything recognisable with sheikh Abdullah. The axing of Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from state gallantry awards should be seen in that direction. It is yet another glaring attempt of perversion aimed to distort J&K’s history, which has long been familiarized with Sheikh Abdullah even decades after his physically leaving the world,” said party spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar.
He said nixing Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from awards, and state holidays cannot erase him from J&K’s history.
“His persona is above petty recognitions, and awards. A conscious leader, he preached to his countrymen to overcome timidity and prejudices. He decried lack of courage as a biggest curse in achieving self-respect,” he said.
While rebuffing former deputy CM Nirmal Singh’s remarks on Sheikh Abdullah, Imran said: “We unequivocally condemn his uncouth remarks against Sheikh Sahib. Being lost into the obscurity he is hitting on the tallest political statesman and charismatic mass leader of J&K and Sub-continent to gain cheap publicity.”
Meanwhile party’s members of parliament Muhammad Akbar Lone and (Retd) Justice Hassnain Masoodi also condemned axing of Sher-e-Kashmir’s name from JK police gallantry awards, terming the move “vengeful and shocking”.