Win hearts and minds of Kashmiri youth: Nirmala Sitharaman to Army

‘Continue anti-militancy operations to kill militants in Valley to ensure peace’

Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, who is on two-day visit to the State, Friday impressed upon army to continue anti-militancy operations in Valley and try to prevent youngsters from joining militancy by winning hearts and minds of the Kashmiri youth.
“Continue anti-militancy operations to kill militants in the Valley to ensure peace,” Sitharaman told army commanders during a security review meeting at Badami Bagh Cantonment, here, reliable sources told Kashmir Post.
The defence minister, who is accompanied by Army chief General Bipin Rawat and other officers, arrived Srinagar in the morning and was received by Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen. Devraj Anbu and General officer Commanding (GoC) 15 Corps, Lt. General J S Sandhu at old Airfield Srinagar.
During the review meeting, Defence Minister said Kashmir is a paradise and directed the officials to “ensure that paradise is secured by all means.”
“She told army officers to ensure local people show their faith in army by maintaining a good coordination with them,” said a top source, who attended the review defence minister’s maiden meet.
Sitharaman, who recently took charge as first woman defence minister, impressed upon the army commanders to ensure local youth don’t get attracted towards militancy.
“There should be no fresh recruitment of youth in militancy. You should try to win their hearts and minds of youth to keep them away from this wrong path,” defence minister told top army officers during the security review meeting.
She was briefed about the security situation in the Valley and at Line of Control (LoC) by Lt Gen. Anbu and Lt Gen. Sandhu.
The defence minister congratulated the army commanders for the “successful” anti-militancy operations in the Valley.
At least seven top commanders of Hizbul mujahedeen and Lashkar-e-Toiba have been killed by forces in Kashmir this year.
Sources said after arriving in Srinagar, Sitharaman flew to forward area of Kupwara in north Kashmir and took on spot assessment of security along the LoC.
She interacted with the men and officials there and reviewed the operational preparedness of the troops, they said.
After she returned to Srinagar, she was briefed about the peace measures and anti-militancy operations undertaken by army in Valley in recent past and robust counter-infiltration grid at the LoC.
Her visit comes at a time when LoC in Uri sector of Baramulla, Naugam, Keran and Machil sector in Kupwara have witnessed heightened infiltrations attempts in recent times and Poonch and Rajouri sectors witnessed ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops.
On September 26, troops killed longest surviving and one of the most wanted militant commanders, Qayoom Najar while he was trying to infiltrate into Valley from Uri sector to revive Hizbul Mujahideen.
Srinagar based defence spokesperson, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said Defence Minister visited the forward areas and was briefed about the robust counter infiltration posture along the LoC.
“She appreciated the effectiveness of the intelligence and operational grids and commended the troops for the excellent operational successes, which had contributed significantly towards a secure environment in the State. Besides she also complimented the commanders for the high level of synergy achieved with the JKP and CAPF,” he said.
Kalia said defence minister would be staying in Srinagar overnight and will fly to Thoise (Siachen).
Guv seeks return of land not used by army

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held hour long discussions with Governor N N Vohra at Raj Bhavan, here, Friday during which the Governor sought return of land not used by the army to the State.
Governor and Sitharaman discussed several important inter-related issues concerning effective management of internal and external security, particularly in the context of increasing attempts at infiltration, the ongoing anti-militant operations, and sustained militant attacks on force personnel in the Valley, an official spokesman said.
Defence Minister was accompanied by army chief General Bipin Rawat.
“Governor during meeting with defence minister stressed the crucial need for urgent enlargement of BRO and very significant strengthening of its resources for ensuring the maintenance of vital road networks and strategic connectivity in J&K, particularly in Ladakh region,” the spokesman said.
He said Governor sought Sitharaman’s personal intervention for the return of certain pockets of land to the State Government which were no longer required for military purposes, about which he had earlier held meetings with former Army Chief and defence minister.
The Governor informed defence minister that despite the increasing activities along the IB and LoC, the officers and men of the army had been discharging their duties with exceptional devotion, under very difficult circumstances.
He also lauded the army’s working in total coordination with civil administration, J&K police and central paramilitary forces.