Arun Joshi, Tribune News Service
Jammu, June 14. When Army Chief General Bikram Singh lands in Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow, he will bring with him a new message of ending clash of egos that had erupted between his predecessor General VK Singh and the state government over the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
This happens to be his first visit to any state after assuming the office on May 31. It shows how much importance the Army gives to the Himalayan state that shares borders with Pakistan, PoK and China.
In Jammu and Kashmir, stakes of the Army run from the dizzying heights of the Siachen glacier in Ladakh to the undulating mountain ranges in north and south of the Pir Panjal and the Jammu region. It is guarding the frontiers, taking care of the infiltration bids from across the LoC, guarding the mostly un-demarcated LAC with China and fighting militancy in the hinterland of the state. There is no other state in the country that poses as many challenges to the Army.
General Bikram Singh is not new to the state, as he had served in various capacities here, including as the General-Officer-Commanding of all important and strategic Srinagar-based 15 corps.
He is expected to utilise his past familiarity with the state leadership to iron out the differences that cropped up between the two sides over the past two years.
It is an open secret that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s words against the Indian Army in the wake of Sopore killings in February 2009, the alleged fake Machail encounter of 2010 and statement on the removal of AFSPA from some parts of the state in 2011 did not go down well with the Army.
Omar was also not happy the way Army stalled his first big political initiative as regards special powers of the security forces.
The Army had opposed his proposal, summoning all sorts of worst-case scenarios.
“Things may not change overnight, but the clash of egos that created a wall between the two sides would melt, hopefully,” said a National Conference leader.
The relations were so estranged between the two sides that no meeting of the unified headquarters, of which the Chief Minister is the chairman, has been held since November 9 last year. The two sides drew their own red lines and no one dared to cross that.