Read the lips of Army Commander, Northern Command
by Jaibans Singh on 02 Aug 2020 10 Comments

On the eve of Kargil Vijay Divas, Lt. Gen. Y.K. Joshi, Army Commander, Northern Command, one among the heroic commanding officers who led their units in the Kargil War in 1999, gave an interview to CNN News 18. The 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles that the then Lt. Col. Y.K. Joshi commanded in the Dras-Muskoh sector of Kargil was conferred the citation of “Bravest of the Brave” and won two Param Vir Chakra, eight Vir Chakra and 14 Sena Medal. Captain Vikram Batra, PVC (Posthumous) and Rifleman (later Subedar) Sanjay Kumar, PVC, belong to this unit. Lt. Gen. Joshi too was awarded Vir Chakra.


The programme, titled “The Man with a Mission”, was essentially an ode to the brave soldiers Lt. Gen. Joshi commanded during his career, his “Bravest of the Brave” battalion, and the Indian Army. In the interview, the General spoke of the heroic action of his troops under Captain Vikram Batra which led to the capture of the crucial Point 4875. This gave him the honour of having commanded the “finest troops in battle”, for which he felt a sense of reverence and gratitude. He described the charge to the top of Point 4875 led by Captain Batra as a daredevil act that has no precedence in the annals of warfare. Point 4875 has been renamed “Batra Top” to keep the memory of the epic battle alive for all times to come.


In a very emotional comment he acknowledged the soldierly attributes of the troops that he is presently commanding in the Northern Theatre by saying that even today the Indian Army is full of courageous soldiers like Captain Batra, always ready to respond to the call of the Nations. This comment makes the heart of every Indian swell with pride.


Gen. Joshi discussed the current situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and the Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan, and frankly admitted that the situation is an ongoing challenge wherein the Indian troops are “acquitting themselves with distinction in defending the territorial integrity of the nation and its sanctity”. He made no bones about the fact that in Eastern Ladakh, India will need to be prepared for a long haul, an aspect similarly defined by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during his recent visit to Ladakh. 


The General clarified that the Indian army has been engaged with People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China in a military dialogue to resolve the situation, first by disengagement and then transcend by de-escalation. He emphasized that the process will be conducted on principles of mutual and equal security for both sides, and India’s territorial integrity would not be negotiable: “While we are investing sincerely in this ongoing endeavour to bring about peace along the border, we also remain prepared at all times for any eventuality”.


The seriousness with which the Indian army, under his watch, is applying this policy is visible from high degree of vigilance of our troops in the Ladakh sector. Rapid buildup is underway with enhanced aerial and ground combat patrolling, even as commanders on both sides work towards a restoration of the status quo ante, with both sides withdrawing to their previous positions with a common area in between. General Joshi said his troops are well equipped and battle hardened, especially the Ladakh Scouts; he spoke glowingly of the support the Indian Army is receiving from the people of Ladakh.


Regarding the situation along the LOC with Pakistan, the General said there has been a 40 per cent increase in ceasefire violations from Pakistan mainly to facilitate infiltration of well-equipped foreign terrorists. He added that efforts are on from Pakistan to recruit local Kashmiri boys into the fold of terrorism and provide support to them in terms of money, weapons etc. He expressed confidence in controlling the situation due to synergy between all security forces and receipt of actionable intelligence, both human and technical, which is leading to incisive and clinical counter terrorist operations with minimum collateral damage. The terrorist ranks are depleting at a very fast pace.


He urged Kashmiri youth not to fall prey to propaganda or come under the influence of the Pakistan sponsored Over Ground Workers (OGWs), adding that the Army is making special efforts to wean away youth from the cult of terrorism with a three-pronged strategy - prevent, protect and empower. This approach was vindicated by Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range, Vijay Kumar, confirming that there is no terrorist left of local origin, hailing from Srinagar. The IGP tweeted: “After #killing of #LeT #terrorist Ishfaq Rashid Khan yesterday, no resident of #Srinagar district in terrorist ranks now”.


Sadly, some sections of the media tried to pick holes in the interview by selectively quoting a single line from General Joshi’s comprehensive narrative and distorting it. However, this got little traction from the public at large. The Commander, Northern Command, made it very clear that the situation in eastern Ladakh will be resolved with application of a mature yet firm policy and without compromising the territorial integrity and sanctity of the nation. He is supremely confident of the capacity and capability of his troops to achieve this end, and is willing to show patience to avoid escalation. But should such escalation take place and conflict become imperative, our troops are well poised to face the challenge.


(Jaibans Singh is a geo-strategic analyst, columnist and author)

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