30 Sep 17/Saturday    

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday lauded the armed forces for “successful” anti-militancy operations and directed them to “keep up the good work” and also “win the trust of people.”

The defence minister, who is on her maiden visit to Kashmir, asked the forces to put in their best efforts to “keep the Kashmir’s young lot away from the gun.”

Sitharaman, who was accompanied by the army chief, general Bipin Rawat, arrived here this morning and was received by the northern army commander Lt general D Anbu and general officer commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt general JS Sandhu.

A source privy to the defence minister’s visit said that she flew to forward posts in Kupwara district. “She interacted with the soldiers and raised their morale by complimenting them for maintaining a tight vigil on the Line of Control. She also praised the soldiers and army officers for a very robust counter-insurgency grid along the LoC,” the source said.

In the evening, the defence minister chaired a high-level security review meeting at army’s 15 corps headquarters in Srinagar.

A source privy to the meeting told Greater Kashmir that the defence minister was briefed about the prevailing situation in J&K.

“In the meeting, the northern army commander briefed the defence minister about the steps taken and the progress achieved on the anti-militancy front. She was told about the success rate of the ‘operation all-out’ launched in May this year,” the source said. “She was also briefed about the counter-infiltration operations carried out this year, so far.”

A sources in the army said that the defence minister felicitated the army officers during the meeting, stating: “I congratulate you for the successful anti-militancy operations in Kashmir. Keep up the good work as it has significantly contributed towards creating a peaceful environment.”

At least nine top commanders of various militant outfits including Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad outfits were killed in joint operations by the army, police and CRPF since May this year. Besides, over 150 militants were killed this year so far in different gunfights including those at the LoC.

The defence minister, according to the source, also asked the army officers to win the hearts and minds of people of Kashmir especially youth so that they are kept away from gun. “You need to ensure there is no more fresh recruitment in the militancy. Let Kashmiri youth join the mainstream and excel in various fields,” a source quoted the defence minister as saying in the meeting.

Meanwhile, defence spokesman in Srinagar, colonel Rajesh Kalia said that the defence minister appreciated the close synergy between the army, police and the paramilitary forces in fight against militants. “The defence minister will stay in Srinagar and fly to Siachen on Saturday,” he said.

It seems during the brief discussions a multi front approach has been discussed. The true aim and final objective of these close door discussions are not very clear. It should be read in conjunction with recent open claim by Mrs Sushma Swaraj that Pakistan is Terroristan and should be dealt with as such by international community. At other forums Pakistani diplomats have been humiliated in openly by those present in US. Details of such insults are openly available. If Indian side takes some actions to ascertain their stance it should not be taken as a surprise. Pakistan Army along with ISI has been harassing and teasing Indian Government for long enough.

Due to fast elimination of the Militant leaders it has been reported that Militants had been reluctant to take over leadership unlike in the past. Indian Army seemingly adopted newer strategies, multi prong approaches and destroying terror network faster than it is being deployed. In this environment it would not come as a surprise to strike a blow at the base of the terror in Pakistan.