Violence Level Up In J&K: Army Chief
27 October 2007
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: New Army chief General Deepak Kapoor today said that his force would continue with its policy of 'iron fist and velvet gloves', saying that hardcore militants and mercenaries could not be equated with youths who had gone astray. 'Terrorism continues to be a danger,' he said at his first interaction with the media after taking over as Chief of Army Staff on October 1. He admitted that violence level in Jammu and Kashmir, after a sharp slump in summer, had recently gone up. 'We can't lower our vigil and guard', he said, ruling out any re- deployment of forces from the State. 'This year there were 50 per cent less violent incidents in J&K when compared to last year. But over the last one month there has been sudden upsurge in infiltration attempts,' he said. 'There appears to be move to make trouble in the coming winter,' the General said. Concerned over ever swelling number of suicides, fratricides and creeping corruption at senior levels sullying the Army's fair name, Gen Kapoor said he plans to strive to bring back the force's image to its pristine. 'Army's image being affected is a cause of concern,' Gen Kapoor said. He declared that all allegations of human right violations against the forces would be scrutinised closely and guilty punished. 'The rising number of suicides, fratricides and other stress related incidents, cases of molestations and corruption at higher level have to be dealt with sternly,' Kapoor warned. But, at the same time, Kapoor advised the media that it too should cross check with the Army Headquarters on all such reports. 'So far we have had 1303 cases of alleged Human Rights violations and only 53 cases were found genuine after scrutiny,' he said stressing that in all these cases strict appropriate action had been taken. The Army chief said that a manual of 10 Commandments had been handed out to formations on Do's and Don'ts while carrying out anti-insurgency operations. 'There have been times when we have aborted a laid down cordon after field commanders felt that any firefight could lead to collateral damage,' he said. Admitting that there had been a spurt in cases of corruption at higher levels, Kapoor said a mechanism was in place in the force to deal sternly with such incidents. 'We are and will take strict action against all those who are guilty,' the Army chief said pointing out that Court martials had recently handed out 'highest punishments'. On suicides and fragging, he said that after undertaking a comprehensive study, the Government had formulated new guidelines calling for greater interaction between officers and the soldiers they command and other stress busting methods. There have been no 'major transgressions' by Chinese troops into Indian territory, Gen Kapoor said as he played down regular minor incursions being a result of difference of perceptions about the border between the two countries. He said a bonhomie existed between the troops of the two countries and would be having first-ever joint exercises in December in Chengdu in Yunnan province. 'The transgressions are inadvertent and happen when border patrols move by their maps and boundary perceptions,' he said four days after ITBP Director General V K Joshi said 140 incidents of incursions had been witnessed this year. 'This is not a new phenomenon. Minor transgressions have been there since the boundary dispute has been there,' the Army Chief said. He said for the past 4 to 5 years, the incursions have been more or less of the same levels. The differences of perception over boundary would be cleared through the on-going Special Representative talks between the two countries. China has been claiming that entire Arunachal Pradesh is its territory but India rejects this theory. 'The border meetings, which started recently, have been a great success. These have been extremely conducive and fruitful in breaking the ice,' the Army Chief said. Gen Kapoor said the Army was gearing up for futuristic combats and exigencies as it continued to engage in counter insurgency operations, gaining dominance in it. Kapoor said the joint exercises between the two forces would be followed by holding of the annual army to army dialogue where various issue like enforcing more confidence building measures, more training exchanges and other subjects of mutual interest would be taken up. The Army chief was candid in replies to topics ranging from whether armed forces were consulted on Indo-US nuclear agreement, army's modernisation pace, morale of his troops and the image of his force. Kapoor said though the Government kept armed forces in the loop on all strategic and security matters, it was not bound to consult army on the nuclear pact, as it had only civil applications. Brushing aside perceptions that Indian Army was pinned down in fighting militancy in the country, he said though 'our commitment in fighting terrorism is heavy, we have gone ahead with making our forces ready for future space wars'. Though the force may not be holding all exercises at the level of Operation Brass Tacks, Kapoor said army was conducting exercises at smaller Corp level to fine tune fighting skills and test the ability of soldiers and officers on new hi-tech weapons systems. Army also plans to speed up the pace of new inductions, the Army chief said adding his major priority would be on increasing the forces' night fighting capability and in promoting jointmanship among the three services. Kapoor also rubbished reports of army having differences with IAF over its efforts to expand its own air arm, the Army Aviation Corp. 'The plan is with the Government,' he said.