Decline in recruitment of local youth into militancy lately: Army commander
The chief of army’s northern command lieutenant general Ranbir Singh said on Thursday that “persistent attempts by our adversary to radicalise youth of Jammu and Kashmir continue through social media, but initiatives are being taken to fight this virtual aggression”.
“Social media is something which has been a challenge, of late. But efforts are on to counter the virtual aggression. We are dealing with it. As part of our counter-strategy, we do ensure that our counter-narrative reaches the people,” Singh said during the winter youth festival organised by the army at ski-resort of Gulmarg in northern Kashmir.
The Udhampur-based northern command chief said: “Our enemy has been using social media to radicalise our youth by giving them false promises and a false feeling that possibly they will be able to get ‘azadi’ in the manner in which they want. However, our youth are very knowledgeable and capable. We are working together to channelise their energy in the right direction which will be good for country as well as J&K.”
To a question about recruitment of local youth into militancy, Singh said this recruitment was high in 2018 “but it has been on decline in the last 4 to 5 months”.
A sustained effort by the state government and security establishments along with teachers, parents and senior citizens “has been a big reason for decline in local youth joining militancy in the state”.
Describing year 2018 as both “challenging” and “successful” for forces, Singh said the army achieved success both along the Line of Control and the hinterland.
He said a multi-layered counter-infiltration grid along the LoC has resulted in foiling of several infiltration bids “besides enabling security forces to capture several militants close to the LoC”.
“The forces achieved tremendous success in the hinterland in 2018 and despite the rise in number of militants and militancy-related incidents, managed to kill over 250 militants and arrest 50 others,” he said, crediting “specific intelligence inputs and flow of information from local population” for it.
Appreciating “good synergy” between different security agencies, Singh said that despite 2018 being volatile, “we have been able to conduct free and fair urban local body and panchayat elections across the state, apart from successful Amarnath Yatra”.
He said different militant organisations are “working with each other” and a continuous assessment of militants’ activities is being carried out “so that their actions are restricted and foiled”.
“As of now, we are in total control of the situation both at the LoC and in the hinterland,” Singh said.
In reply to a query about possible “surgical strikes” across the border, the northern army chief said “every option with the army will be utilised to counter the continuous infiltration attempts from across the border, backed by Pakistan army”.
“Our response will depend on the situation. We have multiple options at our disposal and will exercise our options as per our desire”.
He said: “Whenever a ceasefire violation is carried out on the LoC, we give our adversary a befitting response. We have managed to keep them under tremendous pressure”.
Meanwhile, the northern army commander reviewed the prevailing security situation along the Line of Control on Thursday.
Accompanied by the Chinar corps commander lieutenant general AK Bhatt, the army commander visited the forward areas in Baramulla district where he was briefed by commanders on the ground about the current situation, a Srinagar-based army spokesman said in a statement.
“During the visit, the army commander was also briefed on the counter-infiltration grid and operational preparedness of the formation apart from the various developmental works being undertaken to improve the lives of people residing in remote areas. The northern army commander was appreciative of the measures and standard operating procedures instituted by the units and formations to meet the challenges posed by the inimical forces,” the statement read.
Later in the day, the army commander visited Gulmarg where he was the chief guest at the winter youth festival which was an amalgam of various cultural activities and snow-based sporting events, the statement read.