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Army chief warns Pakistan; says forces needed in Kashmir


New Delhi, Jan 13 :

In a clear warning to Pakistan, Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh said Monday any militant who crosses the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir will be fired at. He also said army needed to continue guarding the troubled northern state “under the present circumstancs”.

“We will fire at any militant trying to enter through the LoC,” Gen. Bikram Singh said at the annual press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15.

His comments came as reports in the Pakistani media blamed India for violating the cease-fire and firing at a civilian near the LoC.

He, however, added that “attempts are on to ensure ceasefire agreements are adhered to by both sides. It is our endeavour to control it, not escalate it”.

Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh
Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh

“If rules are followed by our neighbours, we follow them too. If rules are broken, we won’t sit on it, we will break them too,” he said.

Reports quoting Pakistani military sources said a civilian was injured in firing by Indian troops near the LoC on Saturday.

General Bikram Singh said ceasefire violations have been to aid infiltration of militants from Pakistan.

He also noted that the frequency of ceasefire violations have come down remarkably ever since the meeting of the DGMOs (Directors General Military Operations) of the two countries last December.

On the issue of army’s deployment in Kashmir, Gen. Bikram Singh said it needs to stay in the state.

“Armed forces need to stay on in Kashmir under the present circumstances,” he said. “We should wait for conditions to improve before making changes to the national strategy regarding the army deployment in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

He also said there is “zero tolerance” for human rights violations in the army.

“There is zero tolerance towards human rights violation… Our rules of engagement are based on those followed by a civilised society.”

Asked about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act ( AFSPA), Gen Bikram Singh said: “The military viewpoint is that we have to wait for some time to monitor the situation. A decision will be taken only after that.”

Speaking on reports on slow progress of road construction along India-China border, the army chief said that the government was planning to outsource some of the construction work.

“There are plans to ensure that infrastructure is created on the border. There are large number of roads and railway lines that have been identified to be constructed. There are some slippages on the timeline but we need a more focused look on this. There is an initiative from government to outsource some of the road construction in the area.”