Parrikar Assures Best Weaponry, Infra To Troops On LAC, LoC

22 May 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today assured the Army soldiers that they will get best possible weaponry during their deployment on the borders along China and Pakistan and took assessment of further strengthening the infrastructure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Eastern Ladakh as he flew over Northern Glacier in Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world, on first day of his two days visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Parrikar accompanied by Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag and Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda flew over the Northern Glacier in Siachen, where the Indian troops guard the strategic borders with Pakistan in extreme hostile weather conditions with temperature dipping to several degrees minus throughout the year, and reviewed the situation there with top Army Commanders. The Defence Minister laid wreath at the War Memorial at Siachen base camp, inter-acted with the troops and lauded courage displayed by the Army jawans in manning the Indian boundaries during extreme tough circumstances at the Glacier throughout the year. Gen Suhag and Lt Gen Hooda briefed Parrikar about the situation in Siachen Glacier and the circumstances in which the Army jawans had to perform their duties. They projected requirements of the troops deployed at the Glacier. Parrikar assured all facilities to the Army jawans posted in Siachen Glacier. The Defence Minister, who landed at Thoise in Ladakh region, later visited Leh, where he was given extensive briefing by GOC 14 Corps Lt Gen BS Negi on the situation prevailing in Eastern Ladakh along Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. Parrikar is reported to have assured the troops that they will get latest weaponry and improved infrastructure right up to the LAC with China in Ladakh. This was part of the Central Government's plan to match strength of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China along the LAC throughout the country. The Defence Minister reviewed latest situation along the China borders with the Army Commanders. He was briefed that there had been no major incursions by the Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh for past quite some time now and both sides were having regular meetings on different occasions at the Border Meeting Point (BMP) at Chushul. India and China have mooted proposal to increase number of BMPs in Ladakh from two to four. Parrikar assured the troops that the Government of India proposed to strengthen infrastructure right up to the LAC so that the troops didn't face any problems during patrolling and carrying out day-to-day operations. He also had extensive review of the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in Ladakh, where the situation was normal for past several years now with no unwarranted activity reported from the neighbouring country. Later, the Defence Minister, the Army chief and the Northern Command chief flew to Srinagar, where GOC of Srinagar based 15 Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha gave detailed briefing to Parrikar on situation prevailing in the Kashmir Valley and summer strategy adopted by the troops to keep infiltration by the militants completely under check on the LoC. Parrikar reviewed upcoming Amarnath yatra arrangements including fool-proof security for the pilgrims along with other security agencies, summer strategy on the LoC when maximum infiltration attempts are made by the militants due to melting of snow, installation of sophisticated gadgetry on the LAC, strengthening Counter-Insurgency Grid, presence of militants within the Valley and those waiting across the LoC to sneak into this side and rebuilding of Army infrastructure damaged by the floods along with the Army Commanders. He called upon top brass of the Army to maintain high degree of alert on the LoC to keep militant activities under complete check and prevent infiltration at all costs. GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha told the Defence Minister that Army was on high alert along the LoC with onset of summer and keeping strict surveillance with sophisticated gadgetry, manpower and other equipments to ensure that the militants didn't manage to infiltrate from the passes, where snow had started melting. Parrikar called for strengthening anti-infiltration measures and Counter-Insurgency Grid to maintain peace in the Valley. Sources said Army officers also projected certain demands. The Defence Minister assured the Army Commanders that their all demands will be fulfilled. In the afternoon, Parrikar had detailed separate meetings with Governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhawan and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in Srinagar. The Governor and the Defence Minister discussed various important matters relating to effective management of internal and external security, particularly in the backdrop of several terrorist infiltrations from across the International Border (IB) in the past year and a half and more recent encounters in the Valley. Among the several other matters discussed with the Defence Minister, the Governor stressed the need for urgent strengthening of the BRO's resources for ensuring the maintenance of the vital road networks and strategic connectivity in J&K. The Governor also solicited Parrikar's personal intervention for the return of certain pieces of the lands to the State Government, particularly those at Satwari, Jammu, Army transit camp in the Jammu University and land for the long pending extension of the Kargil airport runway. The Governor had projected all these demands to the Defence Minister earlier. The Governor lauded the missionary dedication with which the officers and men of the Army were continuing to perform their role, in the most difficult situations. Later, Parrikar had one-to-one meeting with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed during which several security related issues figured. Sayeed is reported to have discussed with the Defence Minister the partial revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Parrikar is said to have raised the issue of allotment of land to the Army for Field Firing Ranges (FFRs). The absence of firing ranges has become major problem for the Army. During their meeting, which was also attended by senior officers of the State Government and Ministry of Defence, Parrikar and Sayeed discussed several strategic issues related to prevailing security situation in the State. The Chief Minister took up with the Defence Minister matters related to civil aviation which included allowing night-landing facilities at Srinagar Airport and expansion and development of Jammu and Kargil Airports. He also highlighted the need for creating parking bay facilities at the strategically-located Leh Airport. The sorting out of civil aviation issues will pave way for operation of additional flights to J&K which will go a long way in bringing down spiraling air fares during peak tourist season. Mufti Sayeed also impressed upon Parrikar the urgent need to expand Jammu Airport, which is inadequate to handle additional flight operations. He said State Government will facilitate removal of bottlenecks in transfer of land to the Airport Authority of India, paving way for its expansion. 'With inflow of pilgrims to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine at Katra increasing every year, the Jammu Airport required expansion and up-gradation for increasing intake capacity and improving facilities for the passengers,' Sayeed said. Mufti Sayeed also raised the issue of entrusting maintenance of National Highways in J&K, especially Srinagar-Jammu (NH1-A) and Batote-Kishtwar-Sinthan, with Border Roads Organization (BRO). In his meeting with DG BRO yesterday, the Chief Minister had laid emphasis on having a single chain of command for maintenance of the vital Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, some patches of which are in a very critical condition. The Chief Minister also raised the issue of removing restrictions on making Industrial Estate, Ompora, in Budgam functional. The issue of enhancement of compensation on account of death or injury due to operation of field firing ranges was also discussed. Mufti Sayeed also raised the issue of reconciling excess land presently with the Army. He said an institutional mechanism has to be put in place between the officials of State Government and the MoD so that the issue is resolved in a time-bound manner. The Chief Minister made a special request for vacation of Toto Ground by the Army, which is in the heart of the summer capital, so that civic facilities are developed in the larger public interest. He also raised the issue of transfer of Khurbathang Plateau to LAHDC, Kargil. The issue of enhancement of rentals for land in possession of the Army was also discussed in the meeting. The Defence Minister assured the Chief Minister early positive consideration of the demands by his Ministry. The Governor hosted dinner for the Defence Minister at the Raj Bhawan tonight, where he had the night stay. Tomorrow morning, Parrikar would visit forward posts of the Indian Army along the LoC in Bhimber Gali (BG) sector of Poonch district for on spot assessment of the situation including working conditions of the Army soldiers, installation of sophisticated gadgets to counter infiltration by the militants and other related issues. He will also visit Infantry Brigade Headquarters in BG for briefing by the local Army Commanders on the situation prevailing at LoC in twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch. Parrikar would be briefed on the situation in Jammu region by Nagrota based 16 Corps GOC Lt Gen KH Singh. The Defence Minister is likely to visit holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi ji before flying back to New Delhi in the evening of May 23.