No bunker under militants control in poonch: George
4 December 2001
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
New Delhi: Indian troops are in the occupation of all forward bunkers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir. And it is not a fact that the terrorists have captured bunkers constructed by Indian forces for the use in emergency, the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes has asserted. The assertion surfaced as he replied to a question from Mr Rama Shanker Kaushik in the Rajya Sabha. Mr George Fernandes even went to the extent of describing as ''incorrect'' the details given out by a language paper on November 5 this year vis-a-vis the actual position of Indian bunkers along the LoC. Mr Ramachandra Khuntia and Mr K Rama Mohana Rao asked if militants had constructed bunkers in Poonch and other districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Mr George Fernandes’ reply: ''There are no reports on the existence of terrorists’ bunkers in Poonch or in other districts in Jammu and Kashmir''. The Defence Minister, however, divulged that the Army and Rashtriya Rifles (RR) had, in a few cases, discovered hideouts in the upper reaches of Surankot tehsil and other remote areas of Poonch district. These hideouts were used as logistic bases by the terrorists and were destroyed by the Army and RR, he said. Stating that the Army and Rashtriya Rifles had established a counter insurgency grid in these areas, Mr Fernandes admitted that the vast and rugged terrain posed difficulties to the presence of the Army and RR at each and every location. Despite this, Army and RR operations, he pointed out, had been very effective in neutralising the terrorists and destroying the hideouts. The Defence Minister informed the House that the proactive counter proxy war operations in Jammu and Kashmir continued to be conducted by the Army and Rashtriya Rifles. In his reply to a question by Mr K Kalavenkata Rao, Mr Fernandes said that the offensive measures being adopted in the counter proxy war operations in J&K since October this year included a multi-pronged proactive approach to effectively counter infiltration and the conduct of synergised counter proxy war operations in the hinterland, based on real time intelligence. In addition to extensive area domination, operations, he said, were being launched on the one hand to specifically target foreign terrorists, and, on the other, due care was also being exercised to conduct people friendly operations. From October 1 to November 26 this year as many as 400 militants were killed in anti-militant operations in Jammu and Kashmir, he added. ''No'', was the Defence Minister’s reply when Mr K Rama Mohana Rao and Mr Rama Muni Reddy Sirigireddy asked if it was a fact that the Army had been requesting for a hovercraft to patrol the lake in Ladakh for countering Chinese presence. Mr George Fernandes vehemently denied a recent media report which has highlighted designs flaws in MIG fighter planes. Replying to a question by Mr KK Birla, Mr Fernandes asserted that no serious design flaws had been noticed in the aircraft belonging to MIG series which had been inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at different periods in the past. The Defence Minister said that with the overall objective of furthering the national security and establishing absolute transparency, probity and cost effectiveness in defence procurement, the Government had been continuously endeavouring to improve the structures, processes and procedures related to defence procurement. The Government, he stated, had set up a defence acquisition council and a dedicated institutional structure for defence procurement, namely, the defence procurement board. This measure, he pointed out in reply to a question by Ms Jayaprada Nahata, would ensure a higher degree of perfection cost effectiveness and transparency in the process of acquisition of equipment, weapons and weapon system for the Armed Forces. The Defence Minister also informed the House that with a view to ensuring utmost transparency and probity in defence procurement, the Government had also issued detailed provisions for regulating Indian authorised representative and agents where permissible on November 2, 2001. According to Mr Fernandes, the Government has, in consultation with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Central Vigilance Commission, institutionalised a procedure for a mandatory and time-bound scrutiny of all major defence deals exceeding Rs 75 crores with effect from September 21, 2000.