Lieutenant General BS Raju, who heads the Army’s prestigious 15 Corps at Srinagar, said the number of militants presently active in Kashmir is at its lowest in a decade.
Gen Raju, who has served in Kashmir for a long time, said the Army would like to keep the number that way.
“I can say this with conviction that today we are able to manage the level of violence in the Valley. The number of terrorists in the Valley is probably the lowest in one decade… and we would like to keep it that way so that people have some respite,” he said in an interview to News18.
Gen Raju, who has commanded a formation right on the Line of Control in the Nowgam sector, and led the strategic brigade of Uri, said there are 125 plus local militants and 90 foreign militants in J&K presently.
“The total number of militants is one of the lowest in the past one decade. And we will like to keep it that way or reduce it further for peace to prosper in the Valley,” he said.
Gen Raju, whose has worked as General Officer Commanding, Victor Force, said when the military reduces the levels of violence, the civilian administration must start to come into picture with its developmental outreach.
“I have reason to believe that we have reached that stage. There is a lot of activity which has been generated by civil administration to the people in a large way and we also are working in close synergy and doing our bit to ensure good governance is delivered,” he said.
Lt Gen Raju, who will be relinquishing office of GoC 15 Corps in Srinagar later this month, said the ceasefire agreement reached between the two DGMOs of India and Pakistan is “a step in the right direction”.
“I have reason to believe that it will bring peace and stability in the area. I think the big advantage will come to the local populations living on the borders. They want to see some respite. A lot of civilian casualties have been there. I am of the opinion that some of it will have an impact on the management of infiltration also,” he said.
He said the infiltration will be a challenge for the armed forces in coming days.
“I have every reason to believe that the people who have signed the agreement, especially Pakistan, will take stock and ensure measures in place to check infiltration. As far as we are concerned, yes, it is a challenge. The Indian Army will face this challenge of management of the infiltration and management of the agreement that has been signed upon in the most appropriate manner. The people on the ground have been instructed to ensure that they are able to abide by the new conditions placed and simultaneously ensure they are alert and prepared at all times for any contingencies. And, yes, in case of infiltration, we will give ourselves the best chance to ensure that we don’t abrogate the ceasefire. We will use the existing mechanisms which are in place both at the LoC as well at Delhi and see how to take this process forward,” he said.
“I think peace in the Valley will be a second order if I can call it that. There is peace on the LoC and we will have immediate beneficiaries, the civilians living on the LoC…and prevent infiltration if the foreign terrorists try to come in and we block them, we will automatically have some impact on the situation in the hinterland,” he said.
Speaking on the new land acquisition law, Gen Raju said the process of acquisition has not changed. “The new land laws only provide for acceleration of construction which I, as a corps commander, call strategic area. So if some area is strategic, I am able to accelerate it. Otherwise there is no change in policy, and secondly we are not in need of land. We have adequate land and that is how it will be,” he said.