The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No drop in infiltration: Army

New Delhi, Jan. 15: Cross-border infiltration through the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir continues apace, according to the army.

Army chief General N.C. Vij said here today, minutes after addressing the forces on the occasion of Army Day, infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir is as it has been at this time of the year.

Conventionally, infiltration is at its lowest now, in peak winter, with snow choking passes at high altitudes. But the army chief’s remarks today indicate that there has been no indicator that infiltration across the LoC is decelerating.

“Infiltration is going on as much as it happens in these months. In fact, we need to reinforce our counter-infiltration posture in Kashmir and ensure that infiltration is brought down to the minimum,” General Vij said.

The army chief was asked if there is a likelihood of reducing the troop deployment in Kashmir and along the LoC. His response makes out a case for a further beefing up of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

“We need to consolidate our gains in the Valley and make sure that there is no let up in our operations,” he said.

If his views are reflective of the line of thinking in the top echelons of the security establishment, international calls for a reduction in the presence of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir will remain ignored.

Earlier, addressing the forces at the Army Day parade, General Vij said: “It will remain our endeavour to provide all assistance, to both the government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Central government in establishing peace in the state. Towards this goal, our counter-terrorist operations must continue with renewed impetus. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are our own brethren and we must work with all sincerity towards improving the environment.”

General Vij said one of his top priorities was to consolidate the gain of the year-long deployment of the forces under Operation Parakram. Asked for details, he said: “The forces have been at the borders for nearly a year. During the period, they have carried out exercises and we were carrying out preparations. We need to sit down and assess our capabilities.” He said that after “consolidating the gains of Operation Parakram”, it was important to maintain a high level of preparedness.

His second priority, General Vij said, was to focus on the modernisation of the army. Speaking after the first public display of the T-90 tanks, he said: “We have had a lot of time to train and to rehearse” and to inspect all the equipment. He said the army was in the process of upgrading the existing fleet of tanks and BMP (combat vehicles with mechanised infantry units) with thermal imaging sights that can track enemy targets at night.

“We have also equipped our unit and formations with advanced surveillance equipment along the LoC to thwart attempts at infiltration.” He said the artillery units are all in the process of being equipped with 155mm (the calibre of the Bofors howitzers).

General Vij said schemes to overcome the shortage of officers in the army are in the offing. “We are presently facing a shortage of officers in the Indian army. My third priority is to increase the intake of officers. I take the opportunity (of Army Day) to request our young boys and girls, to come forward and join the army and contribute their services in the defence of the nation.”

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