400-500 Militants in Kashmir, Pak May Push More Militants: Army

Srinagar, May 14: A senior army commander Saturday said 400-500 militants are active in Indian administered Kashmir and expressed apprehensions that Pakistan may push more militants into the region.

“The situation in Kashmir has improved over the last few years. There are now approximately 450 to 500 residual militants in the region. However, this number is fluctuating and putting an exact figure is difficult,” Indian Army’s Northern Command Chief Lt Gen Parnaik told media on the sidelines of an army function here.

He said with the melting of snow, there are unverified reports of infiltration of militants along the traditional routes in Kashmir. “It is expected that in the coming weeks, infiltration attempts of militants from Pakistan would increase. Army is prepared to deal with the situation,” he said.

Parnaik said the last two years have seen a drastic reduction in infiltration and Army accordingly readjusts its postures from Counter Infiltration to Counter Terrorism in keeping with the changing requirements of the situation.

Asked about revocation of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, giving special powers to soldiers, the army commander said, “We have recommended its continuation in view of the situation in Kashmir and the special requirements it entails”.

Replying to a question on China’s presence in Pakistan controlled Kashmir, he said, “Yes, there are Chinese people in PcK and Northern Areas who claim to be engineers and other such workforce. Whether they are People’s Liberation Army we cannot comment.”

He said it is widely known that China is helping Pakistan in building a road from the Khunjerab Pass to Gwadar Port besides other infrastructure projects like dams very close to the Line of Control. “The two countries also have a deep collaboration in weapon delivery and development”.

To a query on China’s infrastructure development and reported intrusions along the Line of Actual Control, Lt Gen Parnaik said, “The use of the word intrusion is erroneous. They come to the area that they perceive as their own and we also do the same. These should be termed transgressions and not intrusions. However, regular border meetings are conducted to ensure that no mishaps take place. As far as infrastructure is concerned, we are also making concerted efforts to improve our own as their infrastructure development does give them a certain military capability”.

On situation in Pakistan post the killing of Osama Bin Laden, he said in order to divert media and world attention after the killing, Pakistan may create mischief on the borders by pushing more militants into Kashmir.

“Though Al Qaeda is not known to exist in Kashmir, its affiliate militant groups based in Pakistan like LeT and JuM are active here for whom Pakistan is the epicentre of support,” he added.