The army’s claim that it pushed back by far the largest group of armed infiltrators from Pakistan after fortnight-long operations in Keran sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir have come under cloud.
The army’s narrative has been that on September 24 it started the operations against 30-40 militants who had entered into Indian territory in Shala Batu village of Keran, about 170km from Srinagar, killing at least 12 of them in the first three days and finally dominating the area after foiling the infiltration bid.
Reports filed by both the state and central security agencies have picked holes in the army’s version.
What happened to the bodies of the 12 militants? While the army said soldiers had seen the bodies near the fence in Shala Batu and might have been taken across by the fleeing militants, the four FIRs filed by its own units with the local police say the causalities were reported from three different places far off from Shala Batu.
The first FIR registered on September 24 said a militant, aged 65-70 was killed in an “encounter” at Lasadnath area, a place from where it takes three days to reach Shala Batu.
The second FIR filed in Kupwara mentioned a jawan was injured, again in Lasadnath.
In the third FIR filed on October 4 at Keran Police Station, the army claims the death of two militants in a gunfight in Gujjar Dor, 27 km west of Shala Batu village.
The army said it could not recover the body of the third militant killed in the gunfight. But army’s claim came under cloud with newspaper reports questioning how the body was dragged more than 20 kilometres to the LoC.
About this encounter, Pakistan had claimed the Indian army jawans kidnapped three of its civilians from Neelum valley, an area opposite to Keran Sector, out of which two were killed while one escaped.
Four militants were claimed to have been shot dead on October 5 in Fatehgali, 30km from Shala Batu, according to the fourth FIR.
Read more: Antony to review 15-day Keran operation
The army had said after failing to enter through Shala Batu area, the remaining of the 30-40 militants tried to infiltrate from Gujjar Dor and Fatehgali.
According to the FIRs, the army has recovered over seven bodies and 59 weapons in these areas, but nothing was recovered from Shalabatu area.
Besides, the operations army said were stopped on October 8 continued even five days later till a joint team of BSF and army managed to reach the three border posts in Shalabhatu--- Khokhri, Kulari and Mangerta – only last Saturday.
Read more -- Army vs militants: a mysterious encounter in Keran
But in an email reply to PTI, the army headquarters has rejected all doubts over the operation and said the soldiers were dominating the Line of Control (LoC) and regularly approaching their own posts all the time.
After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed displeasure over the handling of the matter, defence minister AK Antony is expected to raise the controversy over the operation at a meeting with the three Services chiefs and defence secretary RK Mathur later this month.