Nirmala Sitharaman begins 2-day visit to Jammu-Kashmir
Sitharaman is likely to visit forward posts on the Line of Control in the Valley, the Line of Actual Control and Siachen Glacier.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman began a two-day visit to Kashmir, meeting the regional military and political leadership to review the security situation in Kashmir that has seen one of its most violent years recently.
This is Sitharaman’s first trip to the region after she took charge of the ministry this month.
Northern army commander Lt General D Anbu and Chinar Corps commander Lt General JS Sandhu received the minister and army chief Gen Bipin Rawat at the Old Airfield of Srinagar.
The minister visited the strategic Chinar Corps to review the overall security situation in the Valley, an army spokesman said.
She also visited forward areas and was briefed about the “robust counter infiltration posture” along the Line of Control.
The spokesman said she was subsequently briefed by the army commander in Badami Bagh Cantonment on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and was given an overview of recent counter infiltration and counter terrorist operations.
The minister’s visit comes against the backdrop of security forces upping the ante against militancy in the region.
Kashmir witnessed an increase in anti-insurgency operations after a rise in militant attacks following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July last year
More than 140 militants have reportedly been killed in the valley this year after security forces drew up a hit-list of top militant commanders.
“She appreciated the effectiveness of the intelligence and operational grids and commended the troops for the excellent operational successes, which had contributed significantly towards a secure environment in the State. The defence minister complimented the commanders for the high level of synergy achieved with the J&K police and central armed police force,” the army spokesman said.
Later in the evening, she also interacted with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and called on governor NN Vohra, the spokesman said.
The defence minister will be staying in Srinagar overnight and will fly to Thoise (Siachen) on Saturday.
A government spokesperson said Mufti and Sitharaman discussed several strategic issues. The CM urged the defence minister to get the army to expedite the process of vacating land and release of rent due to people on whose land the force has set up operations.
Mufti also flagged the idea of opening areas like Battalik, Siachin base and other areas for tourist activities including trekking and mountain biking etc, the official said.
Sitharaman assured Mufti she will look into the issues in a time-bound manner.