Militancy-related violence has reduced by over 50 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir and the Army’s role in the valley is diminishing, a senior officer of the force said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a programme organised by the Army in the Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey said criminal elements controlled from across the border and by enemies within the country are trying to instill fear among people by killing unarmed persons.
“All the parameters of violence in Kashmir have come down by over 50 per cent and the situation is very good with stability across the valley,” he said.
Referring to the recent spurt in attacks in Srinagar and elsewhere in the valley, the GOC said such acts are criminal in nature.
“In the rare incidents surfacing these days, some criminal-minded people are killing unarmed security personnel or civilians…. These acts cannot even be termed terror incidents, but these are criminal, done by criminals who do not respect any religion,” he said.
Innocent people and political activists were killed to disrupt the peace and development in Kashmir by the enemies of the people as attempts are being made by militants to create an atmosphere of fear, Lt Gen. Pandey said.
“Some of these criminal elements are controlled from across (the border) and some by enemies within. The enemies are so frustrated by peace, stability and development that they are killing shopkeepers, politicians and unarmed policemen,” he added.
Lt Gen. Pandey, however, said the way security agencies are working on these incidents, “hopefully, they will be stopped”.
He said the role of the Army is diminishing in Kashmir with the active support of the people of the valley and the civil administration.
“About 20-25 years ago, possibly when there was a challenge here, the Army was required. But today, especially in the last two-three years, I have seen an exceptional reach out of the civil administration in which deputy commissioners, police and everybody is functioning as they should and the role of the Army has started diminishing,” Lt Gen. Pandey said.
He said the Army was always in a “supporting role and slowly, our role has started diminishing”.
“The work is in progress, development is in place and a lot of security issues have been sorted out,” the Army officer added.
Asked about the ceasefire along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, he said it has happened as a requirement to ensure that the population along the LoC remains peaceful and is taken care of.
“Every time when the ceasefire was happening, basically, the target that was being made was our own people. It (ceasefire) has come also on the request from the other side, but it is contingent on their behaviour. It has been holding for the last three-four months and I am sure that it will hold, but in case anything goes wrong, I assure you that there will be suitable reactions,” the GoC said.
To another question on the number of militants present in Kashmir currently, Lt Gen. Pandey said there are around 200 ultras active in the valley.
“I am sure that by the end of the year, the figure will be further reduced,” he added.
The Army had organised a function to rename the Army Goodwill School at Bedkut in Handwara after Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, who was killed in an encounter with militants in May last year.