Lieutenant General B S Raju took over as GOC of Chinar Corps, which looks after the Army’s operations in the Kashmir region, including the highly active Line of Control, on March 2. He speaks to Sushant Singh about the situation in Kashmir and the LoC, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Excerpts:
How do you assess the current situation on the LoC? Why has it become active now?
Pakistan has consistently been aiding and abetting infiltration for more than 30 years now. All the terrorist camps and launch pads in PoK are full. These terrorist cadres are desperate to infiltrate with the help of Pakistan Army… Numerous infiltration attempts have been foiled and Pakistan Army is constantly resorting to ceasefire violation to support the terrorist infiltration. Our befitting response to ceasefire violations has been swift, hard and punishing.
An impervious Counter Infiltration Grid and our effective response to ceasefire violations have left Pakistan helpless in furthering its agenda.
Isn’t it fair to expect that when both India and Pakistan are grappling with COVID-19, the situation on the LoC would be more peaceful and local villagers would be spared? What is Pakistan’s gameplan on the LoC?
There is only one reason for the near constant ceasefire violations, Pakistan’s attempt to assist more terrorists to infiltrate into India in order to disrupt normalcy in the Kashmir valley. Pakistan Army facilitates these infiltration attempts. Even in times when the world is together in combatting the spread of the pandemic, there is no respite from Pakistan… Our soldiers along the borders are well equipped… We are ensuring that our borders are safe while the country is fighting COVID-19.
The Army along the LoC provides all types of succour and assistance to the population. Our outreach programmes range from medical help, evacuation, provisioning of rations and other material aid, help in reconstruction of damaged houses and even providing job opportunities to locals. Apart from this, education, skill development and women empowerment initiatives are undertaken regularly. We live with the locals and share the relationship of a ‘Humsaya’ (co-inhabitants), which means that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them through good and not-so-good times.
Should we expect the situation on the LoC to change anytime soon?
Pakistan’s persistence in infiltrating terrorists, proliferating false propaganda are intended to disturb peace and its actions are unlikely to change anytime soon…
What is the internal security situation in the Valley? What are the indicators you are monitoring closely?
The present situation in Kashmir is stable but fragile. Maintaining peace has been the prime goal of all the Security Forces, working in close synergy with each other, ie. Army, J&K Police, CAPF, intelligence agencies and the civil administration. Also, the Awam-Army connect has always been strong due to our ethical conduct and transparency in operations. The situation has been largely normal and no civil casualty due to the Security Forces’ action since August 5, 2019, is one example of it. Even now, in our fight against coronavirus, the support and cooperation we have received from the Awaam has been overwhelming.
How have the guidelines on COVID-19 altered your working routine or that of your headquarters, and of units in the field?
All precautions as per guidelines are being followed in letter and spirit by our headquarters and units. Necessary adjustments have been made in our routine and functioning in order to maintain our working and there has been no difference in our efficacy to conduct operations. Along the LoC, all the locations are isolated and to maintain social distancing and isolations norms, there is no problem at all.