‘Response to LoC killings has to be local and tactical’
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On the eve of Republic Day, Southern Army Commander Lt Gen A K Singh interacts with the editorial staff of The Indian Express in an Idea Exchange.
Pranav Kulkarni: Your comment on the recent killings of two jawans and mutilation of one of them by Pakistani soldiers along the LoC.
Much has been said on this by the senior hierarchy, the Northern Army Commander who is directly responsible for that area and the senior political hierarchy. I want to make no pronouncements. There is a ceasefire in place and both sides are supposed to observe it. The Indian Army is a disciplined, professional force and when we are given orders, we observe the ceasefire. But sometimes things do flare up. Mostly it is from the other side. And then of course, we have laid down ground rules, rules of engagement and authorisation at various levels that authorise and empower local commanders to deal with situations tactically. As far as Pakistan is concerned, they resort to such a situation to provide cover to infiltration which has been going on for long. And that's a routine pattern. As far as the present incident is concerned, the Chief had also remarked that it is a local, tactical incident. But what brought it up into the focus was the unprofessional and barbaric act of mutilation and that is not acceptable. The response in dealing with it has to be local and tactical. Those are the orders. The issue has been raised at the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) levels and the normal flag meetings. We hope that there won't be any repetition of such an act.
Sunanda Mehta: While the response has to be tactical, how do you keep up the morale of troops?
The Indian Army has a lot of depth. The morale of the Indian Army is very high and will continue to be. An incident of this nature does cause anguish in the local set-up there. We have lost soldiers earlier, on the LoC as well as in counter-insurgency operations. It is for commanders at various levels to ensure that this anguish is contained in the right manner. And that is what is happening in the Northern Command. The morale is based on your commitment, your competence, and the way you feel towards yourself, and the way that you feel towards the duty assigned, on the way you feel you are being equipped, trained and led. On all these issues, the Indian Army's morale is high.