'Army on patrol to secure Kashmir's village council members'
Srinagar, Jan 30 : Speaking of threats to elected village council members in the Kashmir Valley, Lt. Gen. Om Prakash, general officer commanding (GOC), 15th Corps, told reporters in south Kashmir that the army has increased patrolling to secure elected representatives.
The GOC was speaking to media persons on the sidelines of a visit to the headquarters of the counter-insurgency unit, the Rahstriya Rifles, in south Kashmir's Shopian district.
"Panches and sarpanches are representatives of the people. It is the responsibility of all of us, including the army, to protect them. We have increased patrolling so that overall security is provided to them."
Asked whether the Hizbul Majahideen (HM) guerrilla group was behind attacks on village council members and heads in the valley, the GOC said: "I have also read in the newspapers about this. But I do not have any specific information. Yes, state police has said that the HM had carried out some attacks".
On fencing at the Line of Control, the de facto border with Pakistan, Lt.Gen. Om Prakash said: "Fencing gets buried at places due to heavy snowfall in the winter. We maintain surveillance along the fence through patrolling, and also with the help of helicopters."
He said the army had always acted stringently against its men found involved in crimes like rape.
Asked to comment on the report of the Justice J.S. Verma Commission which touched upon crimes by men in uniform, Lt. Gen. Om Prakash said: "We will study the recommendations of the Justice Verma panel, but let me assure you that whenever such incidents occurred in the past, we have taken the most stringent action".
On recent ceasefire violations on the Line of Control by the Pakistan Army, the GOC said: "Ceasefire violations are occasions to increase infiltration across the LoC. We are aware of that strategy. We are always alert to thwart such attempts."