Peace returning to Jammu and Kashmir after Article 370: Army chief

Wednesday 08th January 2020 06:35 EST

Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane asserted that peace was returning to the Kashmir Valley after the Centre’s move in August revoking special status to the region, but Pakistan-backed terrorists were making infiltration attempts every day.

General Naravane is expected to visit the Siachen glacier next week on his first outstation tour after becoming the army chief on December 31. “Terror activity and stone-pelting have reduced drastically. The law-and-order situation is improving and we expect it to improve further…There are 200-250 terrorists waiting to cross over into J&K. Infiltration attempts are being made every day, but we are thwarting them,” Naravane told reporters. The army chief said that the September 2016 surgical strikes against terror pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, followed by the February 2019 bombing of a terror facility in Pakistan’s Balakot, sent out a strong message to the neighbour that India can take down terror infrastructure and launch pads and “you cannot operate with impunity.”

General Naravane has taken over as army chief at a time the armed forces are facing a fund crunch that could hit weapons procurement. He said only a finite amount of resources were available for allocation to different government departments.

“Within allocated resources, we need to be efficient and synergise the requirements of the armed forces. We have to pool our resources and make our money work better for us,” he said, adding that India’s military expenditure seemed small at 2% of the gross domestic product but if the country became a $ 5 trillion economy, that percentage would be a lot.

Broadband internet restored

Broadband internet has been restored at 80 government hospitals, health centres and offices linked to the Health Department in Kashmir valley. Internet was snapped on the valley after the government scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into two Union Territories.

The centre restored mobile messaging services in Kashmir on New Year's day, nearly five months since its suspension. Mobile internet facilities were restored in Kargil, which is a part of the Ladakh union territory, last week. Most political leaders in the region who were detained hours before the centre took the unprecedented step of scrapping the state's special status, were released in October, two months later.

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