May 1999 News

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Infiltrators not allowed to breach LoC in Kargil

22 May 1999
Daily Excelsior

Talking to reporters at Jalandhar cantonment, Lt-Gen Surjit Singh, however, conceded that the Indian Army has so far suffered 70 casualties in the Kargil operation.

Asked if it was because of lack of vigilance that infiltrators could make an ingress in such a large number, the General said that it was not because of any complacency on the part of the Army but largely due to difficult terrain in the area it was impossible to stop infiltration altogether.

However, he said the Army was capable of pushing them back and dealing with the situation in an effective manner.

Lt General Surjit Singh said that Army was of the view that Pakistan would continue its proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir but at the same time he approved of diplomatic efforts to improve relations with Islamabad.

He said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s bus ride to Lahore amply demonstrated of India’s intention to improve relations with her neighbours. But he maintained that Pakistan would continue its proxy war against India.

Even while admitting that there could not be a military solution to problem of insurgency, Lt Gen Singh underlined the need to modernise Indian Army.

Though insurgency could be more effectively tackled at a political level, military input was required to curb the menace and hence the need to modernise the Army, he said.

He said that as against budgetary allocation of 3.5 per cent of the national gross domestic product on defence budget, actual amounted to only between 2.50 to 3 per cent annually.

"We are economising our expenditure and have cut down Army strength by 50,000. However, we need resources to modernise the Army because it was being increasingly used in jobs which should be in the domain of civilian authorities," he added.

Lt General Surjit Singh said that though the Army has lost 8392 personnel on internal security duty in the last five years, its morale was high.

Earlier, Lt.Gen Singh, who was Colonel of Dogra Regiment and Dogra Scouts, inaugurated a boys hostel in the memory of General Kulwant Singh, the first Colonel of the regiment.

Initially 23 wards of widows of the regiment personnel would be accommodated at the hostel. They would be provided basic education facilities, coaching and guidance in various disciplines.

All expenses in equipping and running the hostel would be borne through contributions in the regimental funds and donations.

The Dogra Regiment, one of the largest infantry regiments of Indian Army, has lost 266 personnel since 1971 and the present annual figure stands around 50, an Army press release said here. (UNI)

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