The chief of army staff (COAS), General MM Naravane said on Thursday that the army is ready for this year's Amarnath Yatra, but the decision to hold the Yatra lies with the civil administration.
Addressing the media here on Thursday the COAS said, "We are ready for the Amarnath Yatra. We have taken all the necessary steps although the final decision to hold the Yatra lies with the civil administration".
The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), which organises the annual Yatra, announced on April 22 the temporary suspension of the registration of pilgrims for the Yatra.
The SASB had started online registration of pilgrims from April 15 for the Baltal and Pahalgam routes, which lead to the cave shrine. The 56-day yatra, pending any further decision, is scheduled to start from June 28.
General Naravane said the situation along the LoC as well as in the hinterland has greatly improved even as he urged the people of J&K to shun the path of violence as it will not take them anywhere.
"After being briefed by the commanders on the situation, both on LoC and hinterland, I am glad to say that all the parameters we judge normalcy by, have seen great improvement. There have been few militant initiated incidents.
"There have been hardly any cases of stone pelting, any cases or no case of IEDs in the recent past and all these are indicators of return of a sense of normalcy," he said.
These, he stressed, are all indicators that the people want the same and that is a very good sign.
"After such a long time we have reached a situation where peace and tranquility prevail, where people are able to perceive their dreams and aspirations. My message to all, not only youth, would be that when there is peace and tranquility can there be development and when there is development, we will all prosper", the army chief said on the conclusion of his two-day visit to Kashmir.
"See how the world outside has moved on how India has moved on and therefore embrace the future and future lies in shunning violence and if you do that it will hasten the process of ushering in the new era of development and prosperity in the state.
"Peace in Jammu and Kashmir is a 'whole of government approach'.
"It involves political sphere, local government and security forces. in this overall gamut, army's role is to bring down levels of violence to an extent where civil administration and local security forces can play their role in the development of region and J&K.
"Army's role is to work in sync. The ultimate aim is to bring the level of violence down so that peace and development can take place."
Regarding Operation 'Sadbhavna', he said it was undertaken two decades ago when the situation in J&K was bad and the local government was not able to reach out to the people.
"We have been doing Sadbhavna for more than twenty years. 20 years ago when the situation was bad when local administration could not reach out to far flung areas to carry out developmental activities.
"At that time the Sadbhavna projects by the army and other security forces helped a lot to ameliorate the sufferings and pay attention to the needs of the local population.
"Army goodwill schools were established when there were no schools in far flung areas.
"Obviously local youth and children were suffering and that is why we stepped in to fill the breach.
"As the situation has now improved and as the administration is now being able to reach out into these areas, we will now recalibrate Sadbhavna activities in sync with the local administration so that we do not duplicate efforts and we carry out those activities which are synergized and which will bring relief and succour to those who need it."
Regarding COVID-19, he said the entire establishment was now better prepared to tackle a third wave which may or may not happen.
"COVID is another kind of war which is fought by the country. There is not a single family which has not been affected by COVID. It is our responsibility as armed forces of the nation in this hour of need to do whatever we can do for the help of our citizens.
"We have left no stone unturned and spared no resources in helping out in this hour of grief.
"I am happy to say that overall number of cases in the country has now seen a downturn and we are now beating the second wave and as a result of the capacities we have built in month and half, we are much better prepared to tackle the 3rd wave which may or may not come", he said.