Situation not conducive to troops reduction in J&K: Army Chief

J. J. Singh

J. J. Singh  

Special Correspondent

Infiltration continues; terror infrastructure across the border is intact

NEW DELHI: The Army on Friday said the situation was not conducive to troops reduction in Jammu and Kashmir because the terror infrastructure across the border is intact and infiltration continues.

Speaking here on the eve of Army Day, Chief of the Army Staff General J.J. Singh said the security forces had been successful in containing infiltration and curbing violence in the State but there were "other ways" by which terrorists could enter the country. "As long as terrorism continues and the level of violence does not come down to negligible levels, I don't see the possibility of [the Army] leaving the area."

He disagreed with the view that it was in India's interest to withdraw from the Siachen because its troops were in higher positions and, therefore, were more vulnerable to adverse weather. "It [the deployment] is not hurting us at all. We suffered no casualty last year due to cold-related problems. The attrition that was there during active firing is not there."

On the demands for trimming the Army, Gen. Singh said downsizing would have to be considered in the future. But as long as it faced the challenges of low-intensity conflicts, the proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir and insurgency in the northeast and also had to man a large number of posts along the border, the present level of 11 lakh personnel should be retained.

Small forces

"When the Kashmir dispute is resolved, we will restructure to meet the challenges of the future. The coming days will dictate the need for small forces. Therefore, we will have to plan for such force structures. But implementation of the concept will not be possible till the situation improves."

The Army Chief said the borders with Nepal and Bangladesh were porous. The Army was holding talks with the Home Ministry to tighten border controls.

"They are seized of the matter and have taken up fencing along the Bangladesh border on priority. They have also asked for night vision devices and sensors."

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