The situation in Kashmir has improved vastly over the last few years but the time is not ripe yet for the army to go back to the barracks, a senior officer said.
The number of active militants in the valley is at its lowest in the last 34 years, General Officer Commanding of Chinar Corps Lieutenant General A D S Aujla said.
“InshaAllah, but I think the time is not ripe at this point in time. We still have to see a lot of good things happening before we can take a call. Let it be a deliberate one. I won’t comment on the timelines per se, nor would I say that it is the wrong time or the right time,” Lt Gen Aujla said.
The GOC said the army is just a tool in the plans of the government to ensure that Kashmir prospers, flourishes, and blossoms.
“We will work collectively with the state administration, with the other agencies so that we can see the better Kashmir before we can take a call. It is a national call and it will be taken appropriately at the right time,” he added.
Asked to compare the situation in Kashmir today with that of the time he arrived in the Valley as a young officer around 30 years ago, Lt Gen Aujla said things have now fallen into place.
“When we look back at the situation when I first came here, things were on the boil, they had to be controlled. Today, I can say with a certain amount of honesty that in the last 30 years, and particularly in the last three, three-and-a-half years since August 2019, things have fallen into the right place,” he said.
The officer said normalcy and peace in Kashmir was achieved after a lot of “sacrifices” and hard work.
“Being a soldier myself, I think this is the place where the sacrifices of the soldiers, the sacrifices of so many agencies, the administration, the people who have been involved in the daily dynamics of this place, have made a difference. You can say at this point of time, the silver lining is definitely on the horizon,” he said.
It was a gradual process that went on over the last so many years and there is still a lot of ground which needs to be covered, he said.
“At least, we are on the right path… whatever the Army does or whatever the sister agencies do… the developmental work by the UT administration has changed the narrative in a big way. There is a huge change on the ground in every domain, every segment, every sphere,” he said.
Asked if the presence of militants in south Kashmir was a cause of concern, he said there was some “visibility” of militants but “the challenge is to weed them out” further lower the numbers.
“I won’t specify the numbers because numbers do not give the correct picture, but it suffices to say that we have been able to control this particular aspect and we have got it down to numbers which are very very far and few.
“So, that should be an aspect of great credibility for every agency, and of course, the Army is the major role player in all this,” he said.
In response to a question on the ability of militants to strike during big events, Lt Gen Aujla said while there is an inclination among the ultras, the government forces were in great shape to control the situation.
“The propensity is definitely there. Even one individual can create a lot of trouble. But with the type of efforts, synergy, and domination being put in by every agency, and the army has the largest footprints, I think we are in a fair amount of control of the situation.
“Whatsoever we can do and whatsoever we want to achieve to make the others comfortable, I think we are in a great shape to look after the interests of security within the Valley at this point,” he said. (PTI)