19 Mar : Promising punishment to personnel guilty of the Sopore killings, Army on Wednesday said its internal probe would be complete by next week and the force would not hesitate to take action for any breach of discipline.
"The army inquiry is likely to be finalised in the next week or so, and based on that, we shall take action if the inquiry finds any of those, who are involved, guilty," Army chief General Deepak Kapoor told reporters in New Delhi.
Kapoor’s strong message against human rights violations by army personnel against civilians comes a day after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met Defence Minister A K Antony and sought action against security personnel, who reportedly shot dead two civilians in Sopore on 22nd February.
Stating that his policy was to always punish any army personnel found guilty of human rights violation, Kapoor said, "The army would not hesitate to take action required for breach of discipline."
To a query on likely infiltration by militants from Pakistan ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Army chief said the militancy infrastructure in the neighbouring country to push in the insurgents was intact and so were the army preparations to tackle the threats.
"The fact that the infrastructure for pushing in infiltrators is intact," Kapoor said on the sidelines of an investiture-eve reception hosted by him for service and gallantry medal winners.
Noting that the security agencies could not take anything for granted, Kapoor said, "Should anything happen, we are preparing for all contingencies and that is how we are preparing for the coming elections too."
Pointing out that currently the passes in Line of Control between India and Pakistan was closed due to snow and hence the infiltration is at a low ebb, the Army chief said.
Notwithstanding that, the army was quite ready with counter insurgency posture, he said.
"A three-tier posture is in place. Our endeavour would be to ensure no infiltration takes place," Kapoor said.
"Should any infiltration still takes place, we have adequate forces to ensure that the environment remains peaceful so that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are able to exercise their right of franchise without any hindrance in a stable environment," he added.
Pointing out that the 61 per cent voting in the border state during the Assembly polls last year was much higher than the national average, Kapoor expressed hope that the percentage would be maintained during the Lok Sabha polls too.
Asked if redeployment of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir would take place to provide security during the Parliamentary elections, the army chief said depending on the threat perceptions and if there was a necessity, it would be done to "some degree".
On the threat of foreign militants entering Jammu and Kashmir and disrupting the elections, Kapoor said these insurgents from across the border had always constituted about 45 to 50 per cent of the ultras in the state and that they did not pose much of headache for the security forces.
"We will have no problem even if some foreign militants have come here now. The Army is quite capable of handling them (foreign militants) in Jammu and Kashmir and has no problem in tackling them," Kapoor said.
When pointed out to the growing Taliban influence in Pakistan, the Army chief said it was happening on the Pakistan-Afghanistan borders and that the neighbouring country was taking action in this regard.
"The Indian Army is quite capable of handling any such threat if it emerges on our territory. Let my assure you that the Indian security system, both the armed forces and the police, is strong enough to tackle any kind of Taliban action you perceive or are talking about," he added.