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India and Pakistan Came Close to Full-Blown War Twice in Last One Year, Reveal Army Sources

File photo of Army Chief Bipin Rawat.

File photo of Army Chief Bipin Rawat.

General Bipin Rawat’s statement on increasing border tension comes amid rising number of ceasefire violations post the abrogation of Article 370 and the spilt of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

Shreya Dhoundial
  • CNN-News18
  • Last Updated: December 18, 2019, 10:01 PM IST
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New Delhi: As speculation swirls around General Bipin Rawat becoming India's first Chief of Defence Staff, the Army Chief himself is busy with another concern: the situation at the Line of Control.

In an interaction with journalists on Wednesday, he said that Pakistanis have been trying to send in Border Action Teams every three or four days and the Indian Army foiled two such attempts in the last 72 hours. A 21-year-old jawan in Sunderbani died while trying to stop the infiltration attempt.

"The situation at the Pakistan Border can escalate anytime. The Army is always prepared for an escalatory matrix," Gen Bipin Rawat said 12 days before he retires as the Army Chief.

There has been much speculation about Gen Rawat becoming the first CDS of India. While the government of India is yet to officially announce any thing, senior army sources have told CNN-News18 that the CDS's role will look at integration of services and streamlining of procurement, but will not have any operational control.

General Rawat’s statement on increasing border tension comes amid rising number of ceasefire violations post the abrogation of Article 370 and the spilt of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.

Top sources have told CNN-News18 that India and Pakistan came close to a full-blown war on at least two occasions in the last one year. A day after the Balakot airstrike on February 26, the Pakistani Air Force in a tit-for-tat action had targeted India's military installations in the Rajouri-Poonch sector.

Had the Pakistani's succeeded in hitting even one target, say the ammunition dump, India would have gone ahead and launched a full scale attack on Pakistani forward brigades, the sources said.

But the first occasion when things were set in motion for an escalation with Pakistan was the Pulwama attack on Feb 14, 2019, in which over 40 CRPF soldiers had lost their lives.

Top Army sources say tempers were running high in India at that time and had there been another similar attack in the next few days, things would have escalated to a full blown conflict.

On the China front, the Army has plans to cut down troops in the Sikkim sector with the help of technology. General Rawat has often warned of the 'LoC Mindset" at the LAC. While every inch of the border with Pakistan needs to be guarded given daily skirmishes and infiltration attempts, the deployment at the China border is for different reasons, say top Army sources.

In many areas along the LAC, there is no enemy sitting on the other side and good surveillance technology and having troops at strategic locations should do the job, they added. The concept of Integrated Battle Groups as and when cleared by the government will help in that end.

IBG's are self-contained, brigade-size fighting units that will be headed by a Major General and will perform both offensive and defensive roles. The Army has already tested IBG's on the western and eastern front and is looking to get its first IBG in Jammu.

The Army is also closely monitoring the security situation in the North East after protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act. Top army sources say "whether it is Kashmir or the protests against CAA, the number one enemy is misinformation and fake news. In the case of CAA most people are being misled into hitting the streets in protest."

The Army had to be deployed in Assam and Tripura after protests against the CAA had turned violent.

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