10 times more troops required to ensure zero infiltration: Panag

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Udhampur, Sep 16 (UNI) The Army has put the need for ten times the existing troop levels in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure zero infiltration, despite the fencing on the Line of Control (LOC).

''At least ten times more force is required to fully stop the infiltration, which takes place through several rivulets and 'nullahs' that crisscross the LoC,'' Northern Command GOC-in-C Lt Gen H S Panag said at a media interaction yesterday.

He said manning Line of Control (LoC) and with continuing counter-terrorism operations in a vast area along with approved strength (of troops), it was not possible to bring down infiltration at zero level.

Quoting intelligence inputs, the Army Commander said, ''Fifty-two militants' training camps are still operational across the border, out of which 29 to 30 are in the akistan-occupied-Kashmir and its Northern areas.'' Lt Gen Panag said although, the militancy in Kashmir has taken southwards move since 2003, but the infiltration from across the border was still continuing.

''About 5,000 odd-trained militants, including some misguided youths of Jammu and Kashmir, are waiting to intrude into this side of LoC.

He, however said some political parties had been demanding the withdrawal of Army from Jammu and Kashmir on the plea that the ''situation in the state has improved''.

''The Army believes that Pakistan can raise militancy in Jammu and Kashmir any time as it has adopted a wait and watch policy with India in order to take maximum benefits from the ongoing peace process on its own terms.'' Lt Gen Panag said, '' Pakistan can raise it any time to exploit democratic values and disturb peace in India.

''We have a successful counter-terrorism strategy but we keep a vigil because Pakistan can raise it (militancy) any time,'' the Army Commander said, asserting that there was no change in Pakistan's attitude towards militancy as it was still supporting and facilitating militants to infiltrate into this side.

On air-borne offensive against militants, like the one by Pakistan in FATA (Federally Administered Territorial Area), Lt Gen Panag said, ''We cannot use such force within our own territory as it makes people unfriendly.

''We don't want collateral damage in fighting terrorists,'' he said, maintaining that the Army would continue with the people-friendly counter-insurgency operations in the state.

When asked about al-Qaeda's presence, Lt Gen Panag said, ''We cannot say it (al Qaeda) is not there (in Jammu and Kashmir), but we have not come across any of its hardcore operative so far.'' ''The al-Qaeda has outsourced its operations to other terrorist outfits, like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashker-e-Toiba in Pakistan, to carry out its missions,'' he said.

UNI

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