India’s security forces were “well prepared” to tackle any possible terror strike, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said Thursday, in the wake of intelligence inputs that attacks may be carried out on soft targets including schools in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit.
Answering queries from media persons at the Army Day reception here, Parrikar said militants may do something to create news. “We are fully prepared,” he said.
He also spoke about the gunning down of five militants by security forces Thursday in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir and said the gunfight was based on good intelligence inputs.
Lt. Gen. K.H. Singh, commander of the army’s 16 Corps, told the media in Nagrota town in Jammu district Thursday that militants will try to sneak into India and attack schools in Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of Obama’s visit for the Republic Day parade.
“Around 200 militants are waiting in 36 launch pads across the Pir Panjal mountain range to infiltrate into the Indian side,” Lt. Gen. Singh said.
“We have intelligence inputs that militants might try to attack soft targets, including schools and civilian areas, ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit,” he said.
“There is every possibility that Pakistan will try to divert some of the fringe elements of the home grown terrorist outfits to the Indian side,” he added.
Intelligence agencies warned last month that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants might plan an attack in India to coincide with the visit of the US president.
Obama will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi.
Army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh, who Thursday took the salute at the Army Day parade here, said terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir showed that Pakistan has continued to support militants.
The impressive parade, held in Delhi Cantonment to mark the 67th Army Day, included a women contingent for the first time.
Gen. Dalbir Singh said security forces have to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in Jammu and Kashmir which has been attained with difficulty.
“The fragile peace in Jammu and Kashmir has been achieved at a great cost. Together, we need to build on our gains. The highest ever voter turnout in the assembly elections reflects the trust people have in the security system,” Gen. Dalbir Singh said.
He said the militant leadership in Jammu and Kashmir has been eliminated in large numbers due to the army and there was “a change for peace” in the state.
“Terror attacks in the country show that support (for militants) from across the border continues,” he said.
The army chief said there could be new forms of conflict through cyberspace and the army has a new security architecture to deal with it.
He said the past year has been full of challenges for the army and the spectrum of operations has significantly increased over time.
“Our security challenges have grown and become more complex,” he said.
The women’s contingent was the first of nine marching columns in the parade.
Marching with synchronised movement of hands and feet and an evident sense of pride, the women’s contingent drew enthusiastic cheers from the gathering that included families of officers and soldiers.
The army gave a demonstration of its growing firepower, mobility and battle-preparedness with a simulated confrontation that resulted in defeat of the “enemy”.
The army’s guns, tanks and infantry vehicles also took part in the exercise.
The mechanised columns in the parade included T-90 tanks, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launch system, Brahmos weapon system, three-dimensional tactical control radar and satellite terminal that can be deployed rapidly.
The finale came in the form of an acrobatic display by an army motorcycle team which left the gathering spellbound with its formation of a Christmas tree, lotus, aircraft, flower pot, Sudarshan Chakra and a pyramid.