Addressing troops during a visit to the sensitive Rajouri-Poonch region to review the security situation, the defence minister said he was confident that the Army will wipe out terrorism in J&K. “I believe that our aim is to win the war and eliminate terrorists. But at the same time our bigger aim should be to win the hearts of our countrymen. A huge responsibility rests on the shoulders of all of you and I know you will fulfil it,” he said.
Urging the troops to mingle with the citizens, he said, “You all must try to meet civilians from time to time. Enquire after their well-being and try to know the difficulties they are facing… I think these things are also your responsibility. Stay closely connected with the people of the country you are serving.”
Later, Rajnath, accompanied by Army chief General Manoj Pande and LG Manoj Sinha, met jawans injured in the terror attack in a Rajouri hospital. He also met family members of the deceased civilians. “Please have faith in us. Nobody can bring back the life of those who died. But there will be justice,” Singh told the families.
The minister’s statement in J&K comes amid outrage over the death of the civilians on December 22. Their relatives alleged the trio were killed in Army custody after they were picked up with five others by the security forces for questioning soon after the ambush on Army vehicles a day earlier.
Rajnath said, “The Indian Army has now become much more powerful than it was before. It has now become quite well-equipped. Because of the bravery and valour that you show, we all feel a sense of pride. The government stands by you and we give equal priority to your welfare and your convenience.”
Amid the surge in attacks, the Army is planning to increase the number of troops in the Poonch-Rajouri sector to curb the activities of Pak-based terror outfits, sources said. An additional brigade-size formation had been moved into the area a few months ago. Some more units are likely to be deployed to support counter-terrorist operations.
The Army’s 16 Corps, under which the sensitive Poonch-Rajouri sector falls, is also expected to see a change in command. Lt Gen Naveen Sachdev is expected to take over as GOC from Lt Gen Sandeep Jain on January 1.
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