January 2004 News

Terror camps in PoK not wound up: Vij

15 January 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Communication intercepts indicate that terrorist camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir have not been wound up, Army Chief Gen N C Vij said here today, asserting that work on anti-infiltration fencing along the Line of Control would go full pace. 'The entire 590 kms stretch of the LoC from the Chenab river to Gurez sector would be completed by May,' he told reporters after an impressive military parade amidst tightest-ever security to mark the Army Day here. Maintaining that terrorists were sending 15,000 to 16,000 messages daily, the transmission level being as before the recent Indo-Pak cease-fire, Vij said 'as far as intercepts are concerned they indicate the camps are there'. 'But we cannot draw any conclusions. It is too early to assess the situation. The winter months are low for infiltration. We can only assess the infiltration level when summer starts and passes become approachable', he said. The Army Chief said 60 per cent of the fencing work had been completed and the remainder would be over by May end. 'The gigantic effort backed by influx of thermal and ground sensors has already ensured substantial detection of infiltration. With the fence in place along the LoC much greater gains are expected this year. Hopefully, we will be able to curtail infiltration to a large extent', he said. Declaring that the Army viewed the Indo-Pak peace process as a 'positive development', Vij said hopes and expectations had been raised by these efforts. The Army Chief said once the fence was erected, it would make infiltration extremely difficult and hazardous, adding that terrorists would then have no option then to illegally cross from the International Border or through tough terrain in Kargil sector. More troops have now been posted along the International Border with Pakistan to ensure that terrorists did not attempt any misadventure on these borders, he said. Inside Jammu and Kashmir, Vij said Army on the one hand, was keeping relentless pressure on the terrorists with greater kill ratio and on the other hand, making renewed efforts on winning hearts and minds of the local populace. He said with the induction of force multipliers like hand held thermals, unattended ground sensors and new infantry weapons the terrorist kill ratio had gone up sharply and last year alone Army had accounted for over 1550 terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. Army had also kept up the pressure on militants in the northeast, he said adding recent operations by Bhutanese Army had broken the backbone of terrorist outfits like ULFA, NDFB and KLO. 'With the peace talks progressing well with the NSCN(IM) in Nagaland, we are indeed looking at the northeast with great hope' the Army Chief said. Vij said the modernisation drive in the Army was going at full pace with the first lot of indigenous assembled T-90 frontline tanks rolling out from the Avadi plant and the introduction of Indo-Israeli 155mm caliber Artillery guns, which will be also to be made within the country. Vij also said that T-90 tanks were coming into the country with night visions and efforts were on to equip the T-72 tanks and Armoured Personnel Carriers with night visions. Announcing that the Government had accepted the AV Singh report on colour service in the Army, he said this would lead to lower age profile for field commanders and ease stagnations in the ranks of majors and captains. Under the new scheme, the rank of Lt Col would not be selective with almost all officers rising to this rank, he said adding the implementation of the recommendations for senior ranks would be done by the end of the year. The Army Chief said it was proposed to raise the strength of special forces from the current five to ten within the next 3 to 4 years. A big modernisation drive to get highly sophisticated arms and systems for these forces was also underway with 28 kinds of weapon systems being imported. On the induction of shorter range 700 kms strike capability Agni I missile, Vij said it was in the process of being inducted. But on Smerch long range multi barrel rocket system capable of hitting targets 60 kms away, he said trials were yet to be held.(PTI)


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