SRINAGAR – Indian Army has no objection to opening Kargil-Skardu road and the Indian government will also have no objection on this historic route between Laddakh and strategically important Gilgit Baltistan, an Indian newspaper quoted Lt General DS Hooda – commander of army’s northern command – as saying.
According to a report of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, the road from Skardu to Kargil via Srinagar is almost a stretch of 1,700km while at the same time Skardu is a 173km or a five to six hours drive from Kargil. At present, the entire route is suitable for four wheeled vehicles and may need some widening for a small stretch of about half a kilometre near the Line of Control, the report said.
Talking to journalists, Lt Gen Hooda said that the Indian Army was ready to face any ‘challenge’ in Kargil, as now there was a full-fledged army division instead of a unit. He pointed out that the young people have now slowly again started picking up the gun. So the establishment has to look at the issues of alienation and employment to counter the trend, he suggested.
The military commander expressed concern over local youth joining ‘militancy’ but said the numbers were not alarming. Last year, according to Indian intelligence figures, about 60 local youth – mostly from south Kashmir – joined militant ranks. “This year, about 30-35 was the figure that we have,” he said, adding the number is not that large that it will transform the security situation in the disputed state.
– Islamic State footprints –
He also said that there were no solid footprints of the Islamic State in Indian-held Jammu Kashmir but hoisting of the flags was a matter of concern. “There are incidents of flag waving that we have seen,” he confirmed. He said that security agencies have to put their heads together to make sure that the Islamic State doesn’t get a foothold in India.
SOURCE: Daily Times