| Hari Prasad at a news conference in Srinagar on Wednesday. (PTI)
Srinagar, July 24: The army today said militants might intensify suicide attacks against security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Since the army has mounted tremendous pressure on the militants in the state, probably the fidayeen attacks will increase. Such attacks will be there as these are part of the war that we are fighting,” Lt Gen. Hari Prasad, GOC-in-C, Northern Command, said.
Prasad had suffered minor injuries in Tuesday’s fidayeen attack on an army camp at Tanda near Akhnoor, close to Jammu. Eight soldiers, including a brigadier, were killed and 16 wounded.
Talking to reporters at the heavily guarded Badami Bagh Cantonment, Prasad said: “The terrorists, to keep the movement and their morale alive, have to resort to some drastic action to attract publicity and fidayeen attack is an action where they draw publicity.”
“When a man is prepared to die, he resorts to all sorts of methods to cause maximum casualties. We are prepared for it and we have enhanced our security,” he said.
Prasad, however, added that “our boys don’t want any collateral damage”. Hence, a “little bit” of restraint is observed. The officer said the fidayeen take advantage of this restraint and get into the area.
“But in all the fidayeen attacks, we have eliminated all of them.”
Referring to a controversy about “my being there (the site of the Tanda attack)”, Prasad said: “The Indian army ethos is to lead from the front and we believe in this doctrine. First, I am an army soldier and an army commander next. I had to be there. Facing bullets and grenades is not new. We have faced it.”
“I am hale and hearty. I suffered minor injuries. That is part of the game. I visited the operational area with the army chief who was in Srinagar,” the Northern Command chief said.
According to Prasad, between 2,500 and 3,000 militants are operating in the state and every year, the army eliminates over 2,000.
“This year, so far, we have killed over 700 militants. We have this year laid tremendous emphasis on counter-infiltration and counter-insurgency operations. They are going well.”
The situation in the state has improved considerably, Prasad said, signified by the return of tourists to the Valley.
The Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers’ Party, a key ally of chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, favours a unified command for the army.
“Politicians have no role in security affairs,” Panthers chairman Bhim Singh said, referring to Mufti’s leadership of the Unified Headquarters.
A unified command would entail removal of the chief minister as the chairman of the headquarters.
The headquarters was set up in 1993 to ensure better coordination between security forces. Singh is angry at the way leaders of Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party, particularly chief Mehbooba Mufti, continue to criticise the army.