UDHAMPUR: Army today asked Kashmiri youth, who have joined militancy in the state, to surrender and return to the mainstream even as it promised them rehabilitation and support for their initiatives.
Army said infiltration is down by one third and security situation along the Line of Control is calm and is improving in the hinterland.
"Our appeal is (to the educated youth who have joined militancy in Kashmir) to shun arms and come back into society. Yes--(they should) surrender--come back and return to society. Some of them have come back," Northern Command Chief Lt Gen D S Hooda told reporters here today in reply to a question about educated youth joining militant ranks in Kashmir.
Gallantry and distinguished service awards were presented, during the Investiture Ceremony, by Lt Gen DS Hooda, GOC-in-C (Army Commander), Northern Command to 38 officers and other ranks at Udhampur. "I am saying this openly today. From the Army's side, we will help them in their rehabilitation. We will help them for further education. We will help them in any of their initiatives," he said.
"We need to also view it through a larger perspective. For example recruitment (of educated youth into militancy) is an area of concern," he added. On the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, "From a security perspective, we seem to think that things are improving. Infiltration is down. It is one-third of what it was two years ago. Number of top (militant) leaders have got killed. Terrorists' elimination has taken place."
To another query about terror infrastructure across the border and its security situation, he said, "The situation along the border is that ceasefire violations have stopped for past 5-6 months since our Commander Meeting with Pak Army. There were talks at DGMO level and since then there have been no ceasefire violations across the border."
"The situation is calm but as far as terrorists are concerned and also launch pads, they continue to remain there. The numbers vary from 200-300 depending on winters and summers. The way snowfall has taken place, there has been closure of some pads against the Valley side and opposite to Jammu section, there has been an increase in them," he added. "After Pathankot attack, we have reviewed the security of all the army formations and bases as to how to strengthen the security network around them. Whatever action is needed to strengthen the security is being taken up," he added.
On the the firing ranges in the state, he said, "As far as firing ranges are concerned, yes, there is a positive move forward. One range in Nowshera area has been notified."
"As far as Kalith in Jammu region is concern, additional compensation has been demanded for the people who live in that area. From our side, we have recommended additional compensation and we are hopeful that we will get a decision on it too," army commander said.
"Similarly for Ladakh, we will be able to move forward. Where we think some progress should be made for field firing ranges in Kashmir Valley. We have given some recommendations. We are thinking we are a little far away there. We wish we could move faster there," he added.
Regarding the busting of spy rings in armed forces, he said, "This is one area that is quite sensitive. One odd incident is happening. We are looking it seriously." Army commander said they have flagged the issue of hike in allowance in next pay commission. "...after the pay commission gave its recommendations, we have some observation in some areas, for example Siachen allowance. These issues have been flagged by the Army Headquarters. It was flagged by the three service chiefs to the ministry and I am hopeful that the issue will get a positive response from the government," he said.
"There are number of anomalies for example in the allowance itself and also some variations in pay scales as well in the ranks of colonels and brigadiers," he added.
The army commander further said it has been a given a detailed look by the three service chiefs. "We feel that some issues need to be re-looked into and those issues have been already flagged," he said.