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800 Militants Active in Kashmir: Army

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Srinagar, India, Nov 2, IRNA
India-Army Commander-Interview
Modifying previous estimates significantly, the commander of the 15th Corps, Lt Gen. A.K. Sekhon, today said that around 800 militants were present in the state, with about 300 of them active in south Kashmir.

The figure is half the number army authorities had given about militant presence nearly a year ago.

The army commander said that all army officers and men had been given strict instructions to avoid violations of human rights at all costs.

"Eighty five army officers have been court martialled by the army since 1990 for being involved in rights violations," he said.

When asked about the number of militants present in the state, Lt Gen Sekhon said that according to information available to him the figure stood at 800 presently, with about 300 militants being active in south Kashmir.

"Several of the active militants are foreigners," he said.

The army commander said that stern action was being taken against personnel involved in human rights violations.

"Ours is a responsible force, and we are accountable. Whenever a lapse takes place by the army, it is played up on a large scale, while excesses by militant groups are never publicized," he said.

"The media have a responsibility to highlight the wrongdoings of militants as well, as they (militants) are involved in human rights violations most of all, " he said.

Lt Gen Sekhon said that no custodial killing had taken place at the hands of the army till date this year.

"The soldier who shot a government teacher in Kupwara recently was arrested immediately and proceedings started against him," he said.

"The army recently foiled an attempt by some boys in South Kashmir to go across the LoC, and handed the kids back to their families.

Parents should teach their children that this is the wrong path," he said.

"No government hospital or school is under the use of the army at present. Officers and men have been ordered not to violate traffic rules while on the roads, and if a complaint is received about anyone, he is made answerable," he said.

The Victor Force of the army had organised a seminar on human rights at Awantipora. Apart form top army officers, the function was attended by senior officers of the civil administration, lawyers and journalists.

Lt Gen Sekhon, deputy commissioner Budgam Farooq Ahmad Renzu, member of the state human rights commission Habibullah Bhat, the additional solicitor general of the government of India, Anil Bhan, and journalist Shuja'at Bukhari were among those present.

Speaking on the occasion, the general officer commanding of the Victor Force, Gen Bharadwaj, said that the Indian army was one of the most disciplined forces in the world, which always upholds human rights.

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