September 1999 News

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We will hold on to forward posts: V. P. Malik

4 September 1999
The Hindu

Chennai: The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. V. P. Malik, today made it clear that the Army would hold on tot he forward posts along the Line of Control "to make sure that there are no further intrusions of this nature (as had happened in Kargil recently)."

When asked whether all the forward posts would be manned throughout the year, he said "operationally whatever is necessary is being done".

The Army Chief was addressing the press after reviewing the passing out parade at the Officers Training Academy here.

On the ground situation along the LoC, he said even now firing from across the Line continued. "Attempts to infiltrate by militants continue and because of that the firing also continues from both sides. They fire to enable infiltration from across the LoC while we have to fire to stop that. This situation has been there before and Kargil operation started and unfortunately it continues," he said.

The border skirmishes have been confined to Jammu and Kashmir. "To the best of my knowledge there has been no such incident along the border in other areas. But I cannot say for tomorrow," he said.

On Siachen, he said the glacier had always been "alive". "In fact, because there is no LoC in that area, firing has always been going on from either sides. So I would not say that it has come alive in the manner the Kargil did. But the type of firing, the kind of patrolling and the kind of activity is no different form what has been going an earlier," he said.

On the issue of patrols getting lost, the General said this was "something which happens" along border. After the recent instance of disappearance of a patrol, even before the news broke out in the media, the Director General of Military Operations had spoken to his Pakistani counterpart. "He told him that some of our soldiers are missing and if the soldiers have gone into their side inadvertently they should be returned."

Gen. Malik refuted reports that casualty figures were much higher than what was published. "The figures of soldiers who die in operations cannot be hidden by anyone in India," he said. Because of the "procedures, transparency, sense of accountability and responsibility" the figures could not be fudged.

The General said the Army has drawn up concrete plans for the rehabilitation of next of kin of those who sacrificed their lives and also for the injured soldiers. "Some proposals have already been approved and some more are under consideration. These have been worked out by a committee within the Army," he said. People have contributed about Rs. 55 crores to the Army Central Welfare Fund.

On the Army asking political parties to stop dragging its name, he said the Army did so because it felt that such a step was necessary. On the question of induction of new and sophisticated equipment, he said the Army was looking into the needs.

There was "nothing more" to be said in the episode involving Brig. Surinder Singh. "Already the Army headquarter has issued a statement on the matter," he said.


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