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Army chief in peace pledge
- Militant camps in Assam to be crushed in two months: Vij

Calcutta, Feb. 4: The army today asserted that peace would be restored in the Northeast within the next couple of months.

Chief of army staff Gen. .C. Vij said here the camps of the Ulfa and other militant outfits like the KLO in Assam would be neutralised during the next two months. The Royal Bhutan Army had destroyed most of their camps in the Himalayan kingdom, he added.

Gen. Vij said the recent operations against the outfits had made them “extremely weak”. He said that beginning of talks between Delhi and the NSCN (I-M) was a positive sign and hoped that the other rebel groups would follow the example. “We are looking for a peaceful future in the Northeast,” he said.

“Fifty to 60 per cent of the Ulfa leaders operating in and around Bhutan had been either killed or arrested. The outfit’s back has been broken,” Gen. Vij said after commissioning INS Karmuk, the latest battleship to join the Indian Navy.

He said nearly 1,000 militants had surrendered or were either killed or arrested during the recent flushout operations in Bhutan and North Bengal.

“Of the 1,000 people, about 350 surrendered to the army in North Bengal or Bhutan and 70 of them surrendered to the police,” Gen. Vij said.

He, however, said there were some camps of the outfits in Myanmar and Bangladesh. “But the bulk of their camps was in Bhutan. We will clear their remaining camps in Assam within the next couple of months. We have evidence that these outfits are going through a very bad phase in Assam,” the chief of army staff said. Nearly 1,000 pieces of arms along with a large cache of ammunition had also been seized during the operations, he said.

Gen. Vij today became the first chief of army staff in the country to commission a battleship. After commissioning the 91-metre long warship, he said, “India is passing through a disturbed scenario because of terrorism and its 7,000 km of coastline needs to be protected.” He also presented a trophy and a cheque of Rs 1 lakh to the new ship’s commander B. Dasgupta and the crew of 10 officers and 106 sailors.

The 1,400-tonne ship is armed with 16 long-range surface-to-surface missiles, a 76.2 mm super rapid gun, two multi-barrel 30 mm guns, chaff rockets, a potent sensor fit and the indigenous electronic warfare suite — the Ajanta P Mark II. INS Karmuk is powered by two diesel engines capable of propelling her to a top speed of 25 knots (40 km per hour).

The commissioning ceremony was attended by Vice-Admiral .P. Bansal, flag officer, commanding-in-chief, Eastern Naval Command; Lt Gen. J.S. Verma, general-officer-commanding-in-chief, Eastern Command and Rear Admiral (retired) R. Paralikar, chairman and managing director of GRSE.

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