Zero tolerance for human rights, Rajouri-Poonch an area of concern: Army Chief Manoj Pande

Zero tolerance for human rights, Rajouri-Poonch an area of concern: Army Chief Manoj Pande

Abid Bashir

New Delhi, Jan 11 : The Army Chief General Manoj Pande Thursday said that past six months have been an area of concern for them in Rajouri-Poonch area of J&K where “the adversary activated proxy outfits and abetted terrorism.” He also said the army has already taken “follow up actions” to ensure people don’t feel alienated and the army has already “adopted the affected village in Poonch.”

Addressing the annual conference in Delhi, the Army Chief, as per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) said that the past five to six months have been an “issue of concern for the army” in Rajouri-Poonch region. “After 2003, terrorism was fully dismantled in the area and peace prevailed there till 2017-18. As the situation is getting normal in the Valley, the area of Rajouri-Poonch was choosen by our adversary where it activated proxy outfits and abetted terrorism,” he said.

The Army Chief said that 45 terrorists were killed in Rajouri-Poonch area in the past few years while five infiltration bids were foiled and 14 terrorists were killed in the hinterland last year alone.

Replying to a query about lack of human intelligence in Rajouri-Poonch area, General Pande said that strengthening human intelligence is very important and crucial. “We are focussing on synergising our efforts and with other agencies and we are working with them as well. Local support is crucial. Under Operation Sadbhavna, we are engaging with the local community (in Rajouri-Poonch). I personally interacted with the local community there and the army has already adopted the affected village (in Poonch),” he said.

The Army chief said there will be a zero tolerance for human rights in J&K. “Clear cut directions have been issued to the army to act in a professional manner. Our operations against the terrorists will continue relentlessly,” he said. “In year 2023, the army recorded 20 casualties in Jammu. There are some tactical lessons for (us) and we are studying the methods used by our adversary.” About the Kashmir situation, the Army chief said that the normalcy is returning and the terrorism activities have witnessed a significant dip.  Despite the ceasefire being intact, the army saw continuous infiltration attempts that were foiled along LoC, he said. “On the international border, narco-smuggling attempts also continued. The rise in tourism indicates a positive change in J&K. Army is working with other security agencies to ensure peace prevails,” he said.

On Indo-China talks:  The army chief said that the talks are taking place at various levels—at the diplomatic and military level. “To find the resolution is an ongoing process. There are positive result…. The talks are held frequently,” he said when asked about the result of the ongoing talks. “Currently, our endeavour is to go back to the 2020 status-quo. Once we achieve that, we may look at troop-reduction etc.”

On Agnipath Scheme: The Army chief said that they have got good feedback from across the board. “This scheme came after consultations and we have taken into account whatever issues popped up. We need to move forward. There are a few challenges in terms of training that are being looked into. These are largely management issues,” he said. “Anginveers are being imparted quality training across the country.”

Counter Drone Equipment: Ruling out setting up of a separate corps to meet the drone challenges, the Army chief said that enough measures have been taken to counter drone threats and challenges. “We have procured adequate counter drone equipment and the soldiers are getting high quality training to address and counter drone challenges,” he said in reply to a query as per KNO. “At present we have a very robust counter-drone equipment/mechanism in place.”

Army rolls out 5-G Ready Handset: The Army Chief said that under the army mobile eco-system, 5-G ready handset will be rolled out for the soldiers. “These sets will have all security features and by the middle of this year, we will be able to roll out 35000 such sets. Some 2500 such sets are already functioning,” he said, adding that the 2024 will be a year of technology for the army—(KNO)

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