‘No clampdown’ in Kashmir,militants threaten shopkeepers, create fear psychosis: Army Chief

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.”

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