Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh was today suddenly called in by Defence Minister A K Antony to brief him about the ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the LoC, days after the Prime Minister voiced concern over the handling of Keran operations.
Gen Singh, who was chairing a high-level meeting of his senior commanders, left the conference following a communication from Antony's office. Today's unscheduled briefing by the Army Chief comes after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concern to the Defence Ministry over the handling of Army operations in Keran where it claimed to have killed 12-13 members of a group of 30-40 terrorists in an operation that lasted for 15 days but after it was called off on October 8, not a single body was found from there.
The Defence Minister was briefed by the Army Chief on the situation on the Line of Control (LoC) where there have been frequent ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army, Defence Ministry officials said here.
A total of 136 ceasefire violations have been reported in 2013, the highest in the past 8 years. Even today, Pakistani rangers opened fire at 10 border posts injuring two people. Antony will also hold a detailed review meeting with National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and the three Services chiefs next week where the Keran issue is expected to come up for discussion.
Questions have been raised over the preparedness of the Army on the LoC at a time when there have been two incidents of attacks on Indian troops inside Indian territory in the past 10 months. It is learnt that the Prime Minister expressed concern over the incident as a lot of "exaggerated claims" were made by formations about their success there about the encounter and, after it got over, the results did not match the claims.
The Army Chief had briefed Antony about the operations in Keran when he was recuperating at the hospital after his prostate surgery last month. The Defence Ministry has held discussions with the Army Headquarters on the issue in which details of the conduct of the operations were discussed.
The representatives of the Directorate General of Military Operations, which looks after such largescale operations, were present during the meeting, the sources said. Soon after the Keran operation started on September 24, Army authorities had claimed that 35-40 terrorists had infiltrated and around a dozen had been killed in the initial contact phase itself.
Questions have been raised over the operations by the local formation and the senior commanders there as several loopholes have been cited in their conduct. At the six-day Army Commanders' Conference, which started today, the force's top-brass is expected to discuss the various aspects of the entire operation to evolve strategies for handling such incidents in the future. The senior leadership of the Army is expected to discuss the frequent ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army along the LoC and also the ways to tackle it.
The issue of Chinese incursions and issues related to the raising of the new Mountain Strike Corps along the China border is also expected to come up. The issue of face-offs between officer and jawans is also expected to be discussed during the conference. In the last two years, six such incidents have been reported and Army has taken action ranging from censure to dismissal against over 200 of its personnel in these cases.