The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BSF, army differ on terror

New Delhi, May 21: The difference in perception between the army and the Border Security Force on the infiltration into Kashmir could become a major embarrassment to the government, at a time when India has clearly linked the peace process with Pakistan with the ground reality in Kashmir.

BSF chief Ajai Raj Sharma claimed yesterday that though “infiltration had not increased” in recent weeks, groups of militants were waiting on the Pakistan side of the border to come into India. Sharma indicated that there was no substantial increase in armed militants. No figures, however, were quoted.

Army chief General .C. Vij insisted 24 hours later that there was “no slackening of infiltration” of terrorists from across the Line of Control, south of Pir Panjal in the Jammu region of Kashmir. Again his remarks were not substantiated by actual number.

A senior government official, exasperated by the remarks of the army chief and his BSF counterpart, said: “Both of them seem to have missed the point. Our aim is not to concentrate on one or two things. We are looking for a complete renunciation of terror tactics by Pakistan. We need evidence on the ground that Islamabad has destroyed the wherewithal it has so long provided to the terrorists. It is money, it is the camps, it is the equipment and the safe passage given to militants. Unless all this stops, there cannot be a change of heart.”

Both General Vij and Sharma called on deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani at his office today. The army chief, who has just returned from a trip to Bhutan and the forward areas in Kashmir, gave Advani a detailed brief of his trip and his assessment of the situation in Kashmir.

General Vij reported on Operation Sarp Vinash, a massive counter-insurgency operation carried out by the army to clear the area. He also gave his assessment of Bhutan and discussed problems of the Northeast insurgents who have several camps in the Himalayan country. The Bhutanese have promised all cooperation to New Delhi.

The BSF chief ostensibly came to invite Advani for an official function. But he took the opportunity to give him an assessment of the situation on the border.

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