A day after the Indian Army denied any “Kargil-type” intrusion into the Keran sector of Kashmir, the troops surrounded the Shala Batu village in the densely forested mountainous terrain to take out the large group of Pakistani infiltrators who have not fired a shot in the past 48 hours.
In a narrative contrary to the army’s version, top government sources reveal that the plan of the 30-35 infiltrators, who took refuge in the village abandoned since 1990s, was to ambush a patrol on the Line of Control (LoC) on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York on September 29. The village, located beyond the fence, is 500-600 metres within the Indian side of LoC.
Kashmir watchers in government say the possibility of Pakistan’s special forces entering or aiding the infiltrators was “very remote” as not a single round of cover fire has come from the other side.
Latest reports through technical inputs indicate that there is no one in the village but the army is treading cautiously to avoid any fidayeen attack. There are also concerns that the area may have been booby-trapped. “There has been no response from the infiltrators since October 1 to the army’s probing fire,” said a Kashmir expert.
On September 24-25 night, the Indian Army detected the movement of militants drawn from different organisations. Subsequent reports showed that the group had taken shelter in the abandoned village. In a bid to avoid casualties in the hostile terrain, the army planned the operation with extra care.
Given the mountainous terrain, helicopters were used to induct troops in support of the 3/3 Gorkha Rifles unit in the sector.
However, the issue got complicated when the army claimed that it had gunned down 15 infiltrators but there were no recoveries in terms of bodies or weapons.
Official sources said the army was gearing up to move into the village after the path is cleared of any landmines and other explosive devices.