The Indian Army has called off its anti-infiltration operation and searches in Keran sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir after a fortnight of intense gunfights with a group of heavily armed militants.
The army has killed eight militants making infiltration bids and recovered huge quantities of arms and ammunition.
“The initial bid was made by 30 to 40 militants at multiple points. The attempt was foiled. We have seen many of the terrorists fall, while some must have ran back,” Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, General Officer Commanding (GOC), Northern Command told the media in Srinagar on Tuesday, while announcing the end of the operation.
“We have carried out several searches in the area. The counter-insurgency troops have been redeployed and strengthened. We are now going to launch intelligence-based specific operations.”
The army and a group of militants holed up in Keran sector’s Shalbattu village in North Kashmir were engaged in a gunfight since September 23. Militants had attempted many infiltration bids in the adjoining areas as well, which were foiled by the army.
However, the GOC said the anti-infiltration operations were an ongoing process.
“Once on the LoC, it’s an ongoing operation. The anti-infiltration grid is multi-layered. Even if they managed to break one or two tiers, they were sent back,” he said.
“The sanctity of the Line of Control is well maintained. It can never be compromised.”
The GOC reiterated that no Indian posts were ever occupied.
“Some terrorists were killed on the fence, some managed to enter a little.”
The army said eight bodies of terrorists attempting infiltration were recovered in areas other than Shalbattu.
The army has also recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition in other operations in the past one week.
The recoveries include a total of 18 AK 47 rifles and 59 other weapons.
The GOC said the quantum of arms used by the terrorists proved that they were aided by the Pakistani army.
“We are on the LoC, we can see each other. We are eyeball to eyeball, and if you think that an attempt like this can be without their knowledge, it is ridiculous,” said Chandra.
“The terrorists were coming with weapons and ammunition and supplies, which could sustain them for 30 to 40 days. We have shown you an identity card of (a killed militant), we have a letter of recommendation (signed by a Pakistani soldier).”
The GOC, however, said infiltration bids would likely continue till the beginning of winters.
“The period from now to the onset of winters is the time when many more such attempts will be made. There was one attempt made in a neighbouring area last night. We have intelligence suggesting that terrorists are waiting in their launch pads to cross over.”
He termed the infiltration bids as “desperate” attempts by militants because their numbers in the surrounding areas were dwindling. “These attempts are to increase the numbers,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Army chief General Bikram Singh also told the media at Hindon air base that no infiltration attempt along the LoC was possible without the support of the Pakistani army.
“We have had evidence of Pakistan army’s involvement for a long time,” General Singh said on the sidelines of the annual Air Force Day Parade.
“My assessment is that the infiltration will continue. They want to push as many terrorists as possible before winter.”
General Singh also sought to clarify that the attempt by militants was not an “intrusion” but an infiltration bid.
“A large number of channels have talked about this being an intrusion. It is not. Remember, if there is an intrusion… the terrorist would go and occupy a dominating ground, which is defensible. In this case, they are in the naala. I mean, which adversary is going to dominate an area by being sitting in the naala. It was a desperate infiltration bid that has been foiled.”
Meanwhile, Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra said all six injured soldiers were doing well."I have just visited the injured soldiers, their morale is very high. They are all ready to rejoin," the GOC said.
(With agency inputs)