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2000 ultras still operating: Lt Gen Sharma

2000 ultras still operating: Lt Gen Sharma

Author: PTI
Publication: Daily Excelsior
Date: May 2, 2005
URL: http://www.dailyexcelsior.com/web1/05may02/news.htm#5

Despite fall in militancy-related violence and winds of Indo-Pak peace process blowing in Jammu and Kashmir, nearly 2000 armed militants were still operating in the State, a top Army official claimed today.

"Despite fall in the militancy violence and peace winds blowing up in J&K, nearly 2000 militants are still operating in the State to keep the pot of militancy boiling," General Officer Commanding (GOC) 16 Corps, Lt Gen Sudhir Sharma said at Nagrota-based headquarters here.

Over 1000 militants are operating in Jammu division in south of Pir Panchal ranges and rest in Kashmir areas, he said adding that largest number of ultras belong to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.

"The number of the militants in Kashmir and Jammu regions continue to change in view of the pressure from security forces," he said adding Surankote forests (Poonch) tops hard core militancy areas followed by Kishtwar and Gool areas of Doda and Udhampur respectively.

Sharma said the graph of militancy has "gone down and number of encounters have decreased greatly" during the last six months.

"However it goes up and down," he said adding basically militants are on run due to pressure from security forces as most of their dreaded top commanders were killed during past one year.

Sharma said "Army is playing big role in assisting J&K people, particularly living in most remote areas by undertaking development works from construction of schools, bridges, roads to mini-hydel power projects".

The Army is also part of the Indo-Pak peace process and has been instrumental in construction and renovation of the roads and Aman Setu between the two countries, he said.

"We have opened Uri-Muzaffarabad road and now we will also open Poonch-Rawalkote road to strengthen people-to-people relationships further," he said.

"In the re-construction of the State, Army plays a major role and helps J&K Goverment to speed up its peace building process as well", he said.

Claiming that militants were targetting civilians to create an 'element of fear' among them, the GOC said "this shows signs of their demoralising morale as they are on run".

He expressed optimism that the mindset of people living in remote villages of J&K is changing fast with the return of normalcy. "With decreasing support to militancy now, Army's counter-insurgency operations have become more focussed and successful," he added.

"People in remote villages in the past provided support (to terrorists) out of fear. As the fear factor reduces, the confidence level of the people increases," he added.

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