In a strongly worded message, Army Chief Bipin Rawat today described Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) as a “terrorist-controlled country or a terrorist-controlled part of Pakistan”. Delivering the KM Cariappa Memorial Lecture in Delhi, General Rawat raised the issue of Article 370 and, in a reference to the increase in terrorist activity in Jammu and Kashmir since the center’s controversial decision, said Pakistan had “woken up and raised the ante” over Jammu and Kashmir”.
“When Article 370 was introduced, with the word temporary in subparagraph 3, there was no objection from Pakistan. So why have they suddenly woken up and raised the ante on J&K? It is because the territory, which has been illegally occupied by Pakistan, is not controlled by the Pakistani establishment, it is controlled by terrorists. PoK is actually a terrorist-controlled country or a terrorist-controlled part of Pakistan,” he said.
The Army chief also referenced the recent spate of attacks on apple traders in Jammu and Kashmir, calling it “an attempt by terrorists who control PoK to disrupt and prevent normalcy from being attained”.
Sources have said terrorists have been targeting laborers who have come to Jammu and Kashmir from outside the state to create fear among them and disrupt trade.
India has also raised the issue of targeting civilians during ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC); these too have seen a spike since special status to J&K was scrapped in August, news agency PTI reported quoting Army sources. Pakistan has repeatedly – and unsuccessfully – tried to raise the Kashmir issue at global forums, including the United Nations, only to be turned away each time.
On Sunday General Rawat had said people “working behind the scenes”, at the instance of terrorists, were making attempts at disrupting peace in Jammu and Kashmir. The Army chief said intelligence reports of terrorists crossing the border had increased since the center scrapped special status to the state. General Rawat’s remarks are similar to those made by Rajnath Singh, who, on Monday, said Indian forces would “keep giving befitting reply until they (Pakistan) stop such activities”.
On October 20 the Army launched artillery attacks on terror camps located inside PoK, destroying three camps and killing at least six Pakistan soldiers. The strike was in retaliation to support provided by the Pakistan Army to push terrorists into India.
General Rawat today warned Pakistan that India considered the “complete state of Jammu and Kashmir” and would be satisfied with nothing else. “When we say Jammu & Kashmir, the complete state of Jammu & Kashmir includes PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan. Therefore PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan become an occupied territory – a territory which has been illegally occupied by our western neighbor,” he added.