Army chief visits Kupwara, reviews Kashmir security

Srinagar, April 19 (IANS) Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh on Tuesday visited the Kashmir Valley for a security review after five people were killed last week in clashes with security forces in the frontier district of Kupwara.

Defence spokesman Colonel N.N. Joshi told IANS that the army chief also reviewed the overall security situation in the Kashmir Valley. The visit comes amid a possibility of increased militant infiltration attempts from across the border with Pakistan before snow melts on mountains with the onset of summer in the region.

According to an official statement, the army chief expressed “satisfaction” at the operational preparedness at the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

General Dalbir Singh visited the violence hit areas of Handwara and Kupwara, where he was accompanied by Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda and Srinagar-based Chinar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Satish Dua.

The statement said the army chief was “briefed about the incidents in Handwara which witnessed violent protests in the past few days”. He was also briefed about the situation along the LoC and its adjoining hinterland.

“In his interaction with the officers and troops, the army chief… impressed upon all to ensure security in the area in concert with police and civil administration,” the statement said.

The army chief also visited the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, where he was briefed by Gen. Dua on the overall security situation and the preparedness of Chinar Corps in dealing with the “emerging challenges”.

After days of deadly clashes, restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Handwara town were completely lifted on Tuesday.

Trouble had erupted in the town after rumours last Tuesday that a school girl had been molested by a soldier while she was using a public lavatory, near a security picket in a town square of Handwara.

Five people were killed in firing by security forces in the widespread violence that engulfed Handwara and adjacent areas in Kupwara district after the molestation allegation.

The girl later deposed before the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) of Handwara that she had not been molested by anybody and that some local youth were responsible for accusing her and spreading the molestation rumour in the town.

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