India always respects LoC ceasefire, Pakistan Army has been defaulter: Army commander

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Udhampur (J-K), Jan 28 (PTI) India has always respected the ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control but the Pakistan Army has been the 'defaulter', Northern Command chief of the Indian Army Lt Gen Y K Joshi said on Thursday.

He said 3,824 ceasefire violations in 2019 and 5,426 such cases in 2020 clearly indicate the intent of Pakistan Army.

The Army commander said that Indian troops' punitive response and a robust counter-infiltration grid supported by technology and troop presence has literally dried the flow of infiltration of terrorists from across the border.

'We believe in upholding the ceasefire agreement arrived at by Indian and Pakistani armies and we have always respected it. However, Pakistan Army has been the defaulter,' Lt Gen Joshi told PTI in an interview here.

He also said security forces are adopting a three-pronged strategy to sustain peace in Kashmir. The security strategy is aimed at ensuring a law and order situation wherein the common people and government functionaries are free of fear and the civil administration is able to functions with efficiency.

The Army commander said that since most of the ceasefire violations are aimed at abetting infiltration, India's response has been against the terrorist launch pads and other terror infrastructure.

'Moreover, Pakistani posts have also been hitting our villages along the LoC and causing loss to the lives and property of innocent civilians. Our response to such ceasefire violations are aimed at inflicting punishment on the errant Pakistani posts,' he said.

In Jammu and Kashmir, Lt Gen Joshi said, the Army's people-friendly initiatives have been going on for the last three decades covering various aspects affecting the youth or people in general.

'Over a period of time, these initiatives have grown in magnitude and value. Through 36 Army Goodwill schools and public schools in J&K, scholarships to 1,500 students, schemes in health, sports, skill development, building entrepreneurship and so on, the Army has been reaching out to the people at humongous scales,' he said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, spreading awareness on preventive measures, distributing masks, sanitiser and other essentials in remotest areas, 1,00,000 tests of samples of locals at Army hospitals in support of civil administration, establishment of two major quarantine centres within the UT and conduct of over 250 medical camps are just a few examples of the Army's outreach efforts.

'The Army is with Awam and Awam is with the Army' is the reality and no amount of propaganda by Pakistan can dent it, he added.

Replying to a question on Pakistan's strategy in terms of intensifying terrorism, separatism and agitational dynamics in Jammu and Kashmir post the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A, he said, 'As far as terrorism is concerned, you all have witnessed how the security forces have been successfully eliminating their cadres including the top leadership.' He said that this year even stone-pelting incidents have drastically reduced compared to previous years. 'Since abrogation of Article 370, the effort of the central as well as UT governments has been to bring about development and to strengthen the democratic institutions,' he added.

Article 370 of the Constitution, which accorded special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated in August 2019. PTI AB SMN SMN