Time not yet ripe for army’s withdrawal from hinterland in Kashmir: Army officer

While maintaining that the situation in Kashmir has significantly improved in recent years, a top army officer has said that it is not yet the right time for the army to withdraw from the region, said a media report today.

Lieutenant General A.D.S. Aujla, the General Officer Commanding of Chinar Corps, emphasized that there are still certain developments that need to take place before a decision can be made.

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He refrained from providing specific timelines or labeling the current situation as right or wrong. The officer said that the number of active terrorists is the lowest in the past 34 years.

”In Sha Allah, but I think the time is not ripe at this point in time. We still have to see a lot of good things happening before we can take a call. Let it be a deliberate one. I won’t comment on the timelines per se, nor would I say that it is the wrong time or the right time,” Lt Gen Aujla said, as per media.

Lt Gen Aujla asserted that the army is an instrument in the government’s plans to ensure the prosperity and growth of Kashmir. He stated that they will continue to work collaboratively with the state administration and other agencies to witness positive changes in Kashmir before making any decisions. He highlighted that it is a national decision and will be made at the appropriate time.

When asked to compare the present situation in Kashmir to when he first arrived in the region 30 years ago, Lt Gen Aujla remarked that things have fallen into place. He acknowledged that significant progress has been made in the last three to three-and-a-half years since August 2019. The officer attributed the achievement of normalcy and peace in Kashmir to the sacrifices and hard work of soldiers, various agencies, the administration, and the people involved in the region.

”When we look back at the situation when I first came here, things were on the boil, they had to be controlled. Today, I can say with a certain amount of honesty that in the last 30 years, and particularly in the last three, three-and-a-half years since August 2019, things have fallen into the right place,” he said, as per the report.

Lt Gen Aujla emphasized that the transformation in Kashmir has been a gradual process over many years, and there is still much ground to cover. He expressed satisfaction that they are on the right path, as the efforts of the Army, sister agencies, and the developmental work carried out by the Union Territory (UT) administration have positively changed the situation in various domains.

Regarding the presence of terrorists in south Kashmir, Lt Gen Aujla acknowledged their visibility but stated that the challenge lies in eliminating them and reducing their numbers even further. While he refrained from specifying the exact numbers, he commended the joint efforts of all agencies, particularly the Army, in controlling this aspect.

”I won’t specify the numbers because numbers do not give the correct picture, but it suffices to say that we have been able to control this particular aspect and we have got it down to numbers which are very very far and few.

”So, that should be an aspect of great credibility for every agency, and of course, the Army is the major role player in all this,” he said.

Addressing concerns about the potential for terrorist attacks during major events, Lt Gen Aujla acknowledged the inclination of terrorists to strike.

”The propensity is definitely there. Even one individual can create a lot of trouble. But with the type of efforts, synergy, and domination being put in by every agency, and the army has the largest footprints, I think we are in a fair amount of control of the situation.

”Whatsoever we can do and whatsoever we want to achieve to make the others comfortable, I think we are in a great shape to look after the interests of security within the Valley at this point,” he said.