Just a week before the savage killing of two Indian soldiers, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief and mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks Hafiz Saeed was at the line of control (LoC) bordering Poonch in Jammu, according to an intelligence report.
He was doing what he does best: Inciting Lashkar’s border action teams (BATs) to step up activity along the LoC. In the mischief department, the BATs provide an eager helping hand to Pakistani army regulars.
The Mendhar sector in which the Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated is in Poonch district.
A senior army officer told HT that of late, a number of landmines have been going off along the 772 km LoC. The army has lost men in mine injuries and increased sniper firing. But that is not the only worry for the army and intelligence.
Infiltration attempts and incursions into India too are on the rise. “If infiltration attempts increase, it means Pakistan is turning on the terror tap once again,” said another army officer requesting anonymity.
The intelligence alert from Jammu that spoke of Saeed’s presence along the LoC also warned of escalating action being contemplated by the Pakistan army-BAT combine.
An internal Indian army post-mortem of the recent attack has revealed that the Northern Command’s alert after a skirmish at Haji Pir (300 km from Mendhar) on Sunday, in which a Pakistani soldier was killed, did not reach all posts. “We should have anticipated a retaliation from Pakistan, though we did not expect the barbaric mutilation,” an army officer said.
The Mendhar retaliation came two days after Pakistan upped the ante, announcing the death of its soldiers and an attack on its post (implying that India too had crossed over into Pakistani territory). On Monday, India’s deputy high commission to Pakistan was summoned by the foreign office in Islamabad.
The LoC is now on full alert. The army headquarters and the Nagrota-based Northern Command are now preparing for escalated tension. The ceasefire which started in 2003 was seen as one of the most enduring confidence building measures between the two countries, but the army is now preparing to thwart increased infiltration attempts.