JAMMU: Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat Thursday reviewed preparedness of the troops along the Line of Control (LoC) and hinterland besides situation for upcoming Municipal and Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir for which the State would require “extra ordinary arrangements” to conduct them peacefully.
Sources told the Excelsior that though there will be no direct involvement of Army in conduct of Municipal and Panchayat elections, which are scheduled to begin on October 1 and last till December 8, the State Government was likely to ask the Army to conduct area domination patrolling in the districts, scheduled to go to polls, to boost morale of the candidates and polling staff, who could become “potential target” of the militants.
In their meeting with Governor Satya Pal Malik, Sitharaman and Gen Rawat were reported to have reviewed various aspects for peaceful conduct of Municipal and Panchayat elections in the State, which were being held at the initiative of the Central Government as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called for restoration of democracy in the State at the grass root level.
Meanwhile, Sitharaman stressed the troops deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) to remain alert to foil any infiltration attempts and defeat the designs of the forces inimical to peace in Kashmir.
Sitharaman interacted with the troops in the forward area of Kashmir in Kupwara district during her visit to the Valley to review the prevailing security situation along the LoC and in the hinterland.
Accompanied by the Gen Rawat and Northern Army Commander Lt General Ranbir Singh, the Defence Minister visited the forward areas in the frontier district of Kupwara. She was briefed by the Commanders on ground on the operational preparedness of the troops deployed in the hinterland who have conducted successful operations recently in the area. She was also briefed about the counter infiltration mechanism along the LoC.
The Defence Minister was informed during the briefing about the counter-infiltration grid that has been tightened so as to foil any infiltration attempts from across the LoC. She was told that over 250 militants are waiting at launch pads on the LoC ready to sneak into Kashmir. She was told that the troops with the help of modern gadgetry are watching their movement and with the intelligence inputs successfully foiled several infiltrations bids so far.
Srinagar based Defence spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said here that the Defence Minister accompanied by the COAS General Bipin Rawat was received by Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, Northern Army Commander and Lt Gen AK Bhatt, Chinar Corps Commander.
“The Raksha Mantri visited the forward areas in the frontier district of Kupwara where she was briefed by the Commanders on ground as regards the operational preparedness and counter infiltration grid. During her interaction with the troops, she lauded their round the clock sharp vigil along the Line of Control and high morale”, he said.
The Defence Minister, later held discussions on prevailing security situation in Kashmir, with Governor Satya Pal Malik at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar.