It's needed for operational flexibility: General V.K. Singh

Chief of Army Staff General V.K. Singh on Monday came out against any “selective withdrawal or modification” of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

The Act enabled the armed forces to retain operational flexibility and disallow space to terrorists. “If the situation is stable in a particular area, the Army may restrict operations in such an area as has been the case in Srinagar district. However, it is important to retain the operational flexibility, so that islands of terrorist activities do not emerge. The removal or dilution of this ‘enabling legal provision' is, therefore, not recommended,” Gen. Singh told The Hindu here.

The Army Chief's comments come amid the debate over partial withdrawal or modification of the Act, which has come under attack from sections of civil society on account of its application in J&K and the northeast.

No let-up

In an interaction ahead of the Army Day, Gen. Singh said the internal situation in J&K had shown improvement but there was no let-up in Pakistan's support to the proxy war.

The terror infrastructure across the borders was active and the terrorist threat remained real.

While Army operations reduced terror-related incidents in J&K, Gen. Singh is of the view that separatists and their mentors in Pakistan “are continuously and consistently trying to keep the pot boiling in the State, to show security forces in poor light and keep the Kashmir issue alive.”

On the Naxalite front, Gen. Singh said deployment of the Army may be considered after all other organs of the government were “optimally utilised.”

At present, the Army was acting in an advisory capacity and training State police and Central paramilitary forces.

He said there was also a proposal to raise a state-of-the-art training institution for the security forces.

With strategic analysts predicting escalation of low-intensity conflicts, he said the changing nature of conflict did pose a major challenge. “The Indian Army, with its decades of experience in countering insurgencies and proxy war, has acquired adequate expertise to effectively fight low-intensity sub-conventional conflict.”

Asked whether recent reports of misdoings in higher echelons of the Army affected its image, Gen. Singh conceded that “to some extent I agree that there has been a dent, but these are individual acts and can be taken as aberrations. Ninety-nine per cent of the Indian Army remains highly disciplined, with high values and integrity.”

On the Army's concern over near-absence of artillery procurement for over two decades, he said artillery modernisation was a thrust area with focus on indigenous development and production of weapons system.

The process required absorption of critical technology, he said, adding that progress was being made towards modernisation.

More In: National | News