Army chief rejects “clampdown,” claim in Jammu Kashmir

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Chennai: The chief of Army staff General Bipin Rawat on Monday rejected claims of a clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir and asserted that it was a facade put up by terrorists to project a false picture of “harsh measures” to the outside world.

In reality, the violence and killings were down and the terrorists were being kept at bay, he told reporters.

While communication lines are through for the people, there is a breakdown for handlers of terrorists in Pakistan and their associates in the valley, he said.

Also, arrangements are in place for the security forces to talk to their families and there is no communcation breakdown, he said.

Assuring further gradual easing of the situation, he said,”to say there is a clampdown, I don’t agree with this.”

Listing out a whole gamut of economic activities in the Kashmir valley, from movement of apple laden trucks to other parts of the country, operation of brick kilns and sand transportation through trucks after its procurement from the Jhelum river, he said “obviously people are coming out.”

Flights were being operated in and out of Srinagar and other modes of transport like taxis were functional, he said and wanted to know if these could happen in a lockdown scenario.

“You can go to apple orchards and you can see heaps of apples that have been plucked and packed into boxes and being trasnported out of valley…

…hundreds of trucks have come out. Who is plucking these apples? who is packing them into boxes, who is loading them into these trucks.? and who takes the trucks out from the valley,? he asked.

The Army chief wondered how all such economic activities could happen in a clampdown situation.

“How are people moving out? So this clampdown is a facade which is being created by terrorists who don’t want things to operate.”

“A facade has been created through a fear psychosis …by terrorists” and they want to project to the people of Kashmir and the rest of India that harsh measures were being undertaken which is not the truth and far from reality, he said.

On the claim of closure of shops, he said outlets were being operated through rear doors as terrorists threaten the shopkeepers to down shutters.

“They want to show and project to everybody outside that there is a clampdown.” In reality, people are buying essential commodities like dhall and rice and they are cooking food in their homes, he added.

Hitting out at Pakistan for state sponsored terrorism and its repeated attempts to push in terrorists, especially after abrogation of Article 370, he said the neighbouring country carried out ceasefire violations to facilitate terrorists’ infiltration.

“…ceasefire violations are done to make our vigil fail…so these ceasefire violations keep happening.”

Asserting that the Army knew ways to deal with ceasefire violations, he said as a mechanism is in place to protect jawans from being hit by shelling during such times, Pakistan chooses civilians as targets to support terrorists.

In view of intelligence inputs, lots of incidents of violence were being prevented, which would have otherwise affected the life and property of people there, he pointed out.

While soldiers man the borders, it is also important to incorporate technology in surveillance and a lot of emphasis is now being given for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, called ISR, he said.

“We are now developing better techniques to see how we can ensure the sanctity of our borders with the soldiers present there on the ground being empowered with technology in whatever form we can give to them,” he said.

Answering a query, he blamed disruptive elements for misrepresenting Islam, prompting sections of people to get swayed by it.

“I think it is important that we have preachers who convey the correct meaning of Islam…”, he said.

To a question on China and claims of border incursions, he said it was due to diferring perceptions of the Line of Actual Control.

“I think with China, we worked out some very good mechanisms on how to ensure peace and tranquility,” he said, recalling the first informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in China last year when an understanding was reached in respect of border perceptions.

The mechanisms worked out are functioning very well, he said adding whenever scope of escalation emerged, it was diffused through meetings at the level of border commanders.

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