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Situation not ripe to take troops back to barracks

It may not be a ripe situation for troops to completely go back to the barracks, given the dangers that persist from across the border and internally, reports Arun Joshi.
By Arun Joshi | Hindustan Times, Udhampur
UPDATED ON JAN 09, 2010 02:56 PM IST

It may not be a ripe situation for troops to completely go back to the barracks, given the dangers that persist from across the border and internally.

This note of caution has been sounded by General Officer Commanding- in-Chief, Northern Command Lt. Gen. B.S Jaswal in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.

Highlighting the dangers from across the border with Pakistan, ever so keen to keep the pot boiling in Jammu and Kashmir through infiltration, constant support and recruitment of militants, Gen Jaswal has stated clearly that the "prevailing situation has been brought about by a mix of a very dynamic and constantly evolving modus operandi / policy and seamless functioning of the Security forces ' apparatus.

He was of the view that the decision for troop reduction or withdrawal rests with the Government, but the task of the security forces continues "undiminished and there is a need to maintain a high state of vigil."

"Though indicators point towards lowering of violence in the state, but to say that taking all troops back to the barracks as a panacea for all ills, may be farfetched."

The 20-year-long militancy has cost more than 40,000 lives, as per official records. Unofficially, the separatists and others place the figure more than double of the official statistics.

The infiltration is continuing and 2000 to 2500 militants are waiting on the other side to cross over. Moreover, 34 training camps for militants are operative in and occupied Kashmir.

The demilitarisation of the Siachen Glacier, the highest battleground in the world, will be a very considered decision by, as has breached trust time and again at the Glacier and at Kargil.

Although a decision on the demilitarization of the glacier is up to the Government, but "militarily the need of the hour is to maintain Indian army footprints over there to foil 's designs. "

The glacier, spread over 70 Km at heights ranging from approximately 12,000 feet at its snout to about 21,000 feet, was characterised as the highest battle field in the world where Indian and Pakistan troops have intermittently exchanged fire for 19 years, beginning 1984.

Currently, the glacier is quiet owing to the November 26, 2003 ceasefire between the two armies on the borders-Line of Control (LoC), Actual Ground Position Level (AGPL) (the borderline of the glacier) and the International Border.

Gen Jaswal made it clear that "Siachen and consequently Kargil were a manifestation of breach of trust and hence require a decision at the Government's level before any move for troop reduction can take place. "

Regarding the situation along the 646 -km- long Line of Actual Control, the Army Commander said that the Indian Army is well poised to meet any challenge that may arise. The philosophy of border management is to ensure adequacy of combat power as per our situational needs. Capacity building is an ongoing process and we have constantly improved with time.

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