New Delhi: Union Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said that terrorists in Kashmir “are now under great pressure” and the number of stone pelters has “dwindled from hundreds and thousands to 20 or 30”.
“I feel that armed terrorists in the Valley are now under great pressure and they are practically on the run. Earlier terrorists used to cross the Line of Control (LoC) in thousands, but now it has dwindled, and security forces are dominating,” Jaitley said while speaking at the day-long India TV conclave ‘Vande Mataram’ here.
He said that earlier, during encounters, hundreds or thousands of stone pelters used to assemble to allow free passage to militants. “Today their numbers have dwindled to 20, 30 or 50.”
The Minister added that no militant can now dream of committing acts of terror or continue to terrorize the valley for decades. “Today their life shelf has dwindled to a few months,” he said.
“I will specifically praise the Jammu and Kashmir Police for working hard (towards eliminating terrorists),” he said.
Jaitley said the currency squeeze after demonetization and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) action on ‘Hawala’ deals by separatist leaders has resulted in terrorists now looting banks in the Valley for the first time.
“Today on the LoC and on the International Border, our forces are practically dominating, and it has become very difficult for terrorists to intrude, especially after our army’s surgical strikes,” he said.
To a query on the use of ISIS flags by terrorists in the Valley, Jaitley termed them “isolated incidents” and said that the country is “free from the menace of ISIS”.
He said his government wants India to become a global power in the defence manufacturing sector. “And towards that end, we are encouraging private players to come forward. We will, of course, also continue to strengthen our ordnance factories and defence PSUs.”
The Defence Minister, however, refused to make any comment on the current India-China Doklam standoff, and said: “I will not like to make any remark publicly given the current sensitive situation.”
Jaitley, who is also the Finance Minister, said that in next year’s Budget, his topmost priorities will be — national security and rural India.
Referring to last year’s incidents in Jawaharlal Nehru University, where anti-national slogans and speeches were allegedly made, Jaitley said that “some forces” in the country were trying to “weaken the state by criticising defence forces”.
“I can understand the Left leaders, when they support such anti-national elements, but when mainstream party leaders join them, it is disturbing,” he said.
“Can you imagine Indiraji (Gandhi) or Rajiv Gandhi or Narasimha Rao supporting such a move by any Congress leader?” he asked.