Unprecedented avalanches in North Kashmir have caused “extensive damage” to the fencing along the Line of Control (LoC), raising fears of a surge in infiltration.
The army is also considering retreating from some posts along the LoC to prevent further loss of lives, as threats of fresh avalanches loom large. However, the army fears that vacating the posts could make them vulnerable to being taken over by enemy forces.
Two massive avalanches hit army camps at Dawar area of Bandipora district and Sonamarg area of Ganderbal district on Wednesday night resulting in the death of 17 soldiers — 14 of them from 109 Infantry Brigade at Dawar. Two soldiers are still missing.
“We are reviewing if we need to vacate some more posts, but that will be a tactical decision which will be taken by the commanders on the ground,” said Lt Gen KT Parnaik, general officer commanding-in-chief of Northern Command. He, however, denied the possibility of “someone coming and occupying the posts before we do so”. Parnaik was scheduled to visit affected areas and meet the troops stationed there. But the plan could not materialise because of adverse weather conditions, said an army spokesperson.
The fence along the LoC was erected in 2004 as part of the counter-infiltration measures and has proven vital in the army’s efforts to check infiltration. The army now faces the “huge task” of retrieving and repairing the fence before the summer sets in.
Lt Gen Parnaik said snowing in the area was a yearly phenomenon.
“But the snow was rather heavy this year thereby burying the fence,” he said.