> Calls for collective efforts for ensuring smooth pilgrimage
>Says 21 foreign militants killed this year; 40 to 50 local militants operating in hinterland
>200 militants ready to be launched; some US made weapons have reached Kashmir
Udhampur: Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General Upendera Diwedi Friday said that double rush of pilgrims for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra is expected this year compared to 2019. He called for collective efforts for ensuing hassle free pilgrimage.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event at Udhampur, the General officer Commanding (GoC-in-C) Lt Gen Upendera Diwedi said that the army remains deployed in the areas where Yatra takes place, throughout the year. “We have set Standard Operating Procedure (SoPs) and Corps commanders in Kashmir have already met LG (Manoj Sinha). I have also met LG and discussed the preparations,” the GoC-in-C said.
He said that the endeavor is that no militant activity should take place anywhere from where the Yatra takes place. “It is being expected that there will be a double rush of pilgrims compared to 2019. So all other stakeholders, including NGOs have to place a collective role to ensure smooth pilgrimage,” Lt Gen Diwedi said, adding that “the army has to play a role in medical emergencies and other quick responses during the pilgrimage.”
The GoC-in-C said that at least 200 militants are ready to across the LoC to be launched. “Twenty-one, foreign militants have been killed this year. There are six major camps and 29 minor camps active across LoC,” the army officer said.
He said that this year 21 foreign militants were killed but yet, there is no exact data about the number of foreigners operating in J&K. “There are 40 to 50 local militants operating in the hinterland,” the army officer said.
He said that there are 48 goodwill schools operating in J&K where 1500 students studying in these schools are being taught how to shape their future. Asked about recovery of weapons left back by US and American forces in Afghanistan from militants in Kashmir, he said some weapons have been recovered. “We are countering it effectively,” GoC-in-C said. About the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the top army officer said that the de-escalation process in the army is maintaining strategic patience and so far the situation is under control. “Negotiations are being held at top level,” he said. (KNO)