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Posted at: Feb 14, 2018, 7:13 PM; last updated: Feb 15, 2018, 1:57 AM (IST)

Indian Army does not communalise: Northern Command chief

Indian Army does not communalise: Northern Command chief
Lt Gen D Anbu, GOC-in-C, Northern Command, addressing mediapersons in Udhampur on Wednesday. Tribune Photo: Inderjeet Singh

Tribune News Service

Udhampur/Jammu, February 14

The army on Wednesday said it “does not communalise martyrs”, slamming Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi for his comments on soldiers killed in the Sunjuwan terror attack.

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“In army, there is a Sarvdharam Sthal. We don’t communalise troops. The people who don't know the inside functioning of army are making such statements,” General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen D Anbu said.

Lt Gen Anbu rebuttal came a day after Owaisi had slammed those questioning the patriotism of Muslims, while making a reference to the fact that five army soldiers killed by terrorists at the Sunjuwan army camp were Kashmiri Muslims.

“People of J&K have already shown to those who wanted to communalise the martyrdom. Large number of people following martyrs in Kashmir was testimony to it,” the Northern Army commander said.

He said “the issue of Major Aditya will not down morale of my troops”. “The Major Aditya issue has not dented the morale of our troops even a bit. I can say this with full confidence.”

“In 2017, we focused on the leadership of terrorists. Our real concern is increase in the number of local youths taking up arms, in the 20-30 year age group and most belonging to poor families,” Lt Gen Anbu said.

The "pro-active" strategy in the aftermath of the 2016 Uri terror attack will continue as the Indian Army has dominated Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.

Lt Gen Anbu also said over three times more casualties had been inflicted on the adversary last year.

"Pakistan and its ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) is directly involved in terrorism not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also in neighbouring countries, as without its support, training and strategy, terrorism would not have lasted so long," he said after presenting gallantry awards at an Investiture Ceremony here.

The officer presented 39 Sena Medals and the 'Unit Appreciation' to 26 units for their outstanding performance in 2017.

On the Sunjuwan terror strike in the state on Saturday, he said, "It is the frustrated enemy (Pakistan) which does involve itself in such activities when it is not able to face us on the borders."

"It is but natural that the enemy is on the receiving end and looks for the easier alternative. While immediately behind the borders we have strengthened ourselves and we are very well prepared, it picked up soft targets," he said.

The officer said you cannot have the same security like in borders at areas which are peaceful.

"I will not accept a single lapse on the border because it is supported to be protected. The Army spent almost Rs 364 crore on different things to build up the security of the soft elements on the LoC," the officer said.

"We got our acts together as far as surveillance, sentry duty and drills and other things are concerned besides the intelligence," he said.

The operations and the management of the LoC was quite complex, challenging and dynamic, and that over the past one year, things evolved continuously, Anbu said.

"We are working as per our strategy and will continue to do so. I want to assure you that we are not going to be cowed down by small incidents, 'fidayeen' (suicide) attacks or other things. We are not going to derail from our main course of action," the officer told reporters.

"We have adapted to it very well and in the whole year, we have dominated the adversary. It has been a pro-active action after the Uri incident and we have not looked back," Anbu said.

Militants on September 18, 2016, had stormed a battalion headquarters of the Army in North Kashmir's Uri town in the early hours, killing 17 jawans and injuring 20 other personnel.

On the casualties suffered by Pakistan in the retaliatory action to ceasefire violations, the officer said, "You do not come to know what is the damage caused across the border because our adversary does not believe in accepting the casualties. We are in a very dominating position."

Though some media reports suggest 192 fatal casualties were suffered by Pakistan along the LoC, the Army is not going to put a figure because of the simple reason that Pakistan has only admitted to 13 casualties, he said.

"However, through various sources, reports and assessments, it is three times more than what we have suffered. These are conservative estimates on our part, but it is much more," Anbu said.

The officer said the Army was prioritising security of small camps in vulnerable areas and those which need immediate attention.

"The government has also come up with certain funds and I am sure we will be able not only to have a physical fence but also technology assist it," he said.

The officer the Army's endeavour was to ensure "zero infiltration".

"Infiltration does take place. We endeavour to ensure zero infiltration that is our job and we put our best effort," he said.

The officer said there was considerable reduction in infiltration, but the number of attempts almost doubled in 2007 compared to the previous year.

"This was the reason we were able to eliminate more (terrorists) last year. Their attempt is to keep the pot boiling," he said.

The terrorists present at training camps and launching pads are being pushed into this side. If we take south and north of Pir Panjal, 185 to 220 are always present in south and 195-220 continue to remain in north, Anbu said. — With agencies

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