Thursday, May 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

More forces for key areas in J&K
Army chief briefs Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 21
A day after reviewing counter- insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the Chief of Army Staff, Gen N.C. Vij, today met Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and briefed him on the prevailing security scenario in the state.

General Vij had yesterday visited Surankote, Chanderkote and Nanan areas near the border with Pakistan in Poonch district to take a first-hand review of the counter-insurgency operations launched by the Army over the past month. In this period, the Army busted over 90 hideouts in the region and killed over 60 terrorists, most of whom were foreign nationals.

During the meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, General Vij is understood to have given an assessment about the infiltration level along the LoC and the international border with Pakistan, particularly in the coming weeks, with the snow starting to melt on the high peaks.

The one-to-one meeting between Mr Advani and General Vij lasted for about 45 minutes.

After the meeting, General Vij refused to give any details of what transpired. However, sources said General Vij gave the Army’s assessment of the situation in the backdrop of Pakistan’s promises to curb cross-border infiltration.

However, later at a function to honour the two Army men who had helped in rescuing people during the fire in the Frontier Mail recently, General Vij said “Operation Sarp Vinash” (annihilation of snakes) was a major operation and a large cache of arms and ammunition had been seized.

Without giving details of the groups the terrorists belonged to, General Vij said it was almost a war-like situation in the area for the period the operation was on. He denied that helicopter gunships had been used to flush out the terrorists but said helicopters had been used for logistical purposes.

He said there was no slackening of guard on the LoC and that India would adopt a wait-and-watch policy before coming to a conclusion on the level of infiltration from across the border.

To avoid civilian casualties, the Army had barred Gujjars and Bakarwals (nomadic tribes) from the region to allow it to operate with freedom, he said, adding that the Centre had paid adequate compensation to these tribesmen.

Yesterday, after his visit, General Vij had taken a decision to further strengthen the deployment of security forces in key areas along the Line of Control in an effort to maintain pressure on terrorists.


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