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Militants breach wall of snow on LoC

The Indian Army's worst fears have come true. Militants are now desperate enough to defy the high snow walls to cross over to this side of the Line of Control, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2008 01:38 IST
Arun Joshi

The Indian Army's worst fears have come true. Militants are now desperate enough to defy the high walls of snow to cross over to this side of the Line of Control (LoC).

The first such attempt was made this year — in Keran sector — on February 22. Two infiltrators were shot dead by the security forces.

<b1>For miles there is nothing but snow in this area, 111 km from the summer capital Srinagar. The mountains look like an undulating ocean of snow - enchantingly beautiful for onlookers, but a big challenge for soldiers guarding the borders. The temperatures often dip to minus 10 or less.

Kashmir has experienced the heaviest snowfall in decades this year. Nanda post in Gulmarg sector received over 24-feet snow while Cheema post in the same sector got almost 17 feet. One would think it's humanly impossible to cross in such conditions. And yet, militants chose to make their first attempt at such a time.

This attempt was detected and neutralised, but this could well be the beginning, admitted an army officer.

<b2>The security forces are expecting heightened activity this year at the LoC. Especially in view of the February 22 attempt, made despite the hostile terrain and round-the-clock vigil of Indian soldiers, who are under orders to shoot in case of any suspicious movement.

Col. Mathur, of the 15 Corps, attributed it to the "sheer desperation of militants."

Desperation for what? "These are foreign militants in pursuit of their agenda of global jihad," said the officer, who has
been monitoring cross-border activity.

“The most disturbing fact is that terror camps are still intact. Militants have been shifted to the launching pads. There are at least 26 of them in the sectors facing the Valley," the army officer said.

Not just the army, former militants are also getting similar inputs from across.

<b3>A former militant leader, now an over ground activist, told Hindustan Times: "When I was in Pakistan last year, I asked ISI officers why they keep sending militants to Kashmir despite the ceasefire and the Indo-Pak dialogue. Their answer was: We cannot dismantle our infrastructure which took us 50 years to put together." The militancy plan in Kashmir did not come about in 1987 or 1988. "It started long ago," the militant leader was told.

That explains why the infiltration is still on. And why our soldiers need to be on guard 24x7.

"The infiltrators have to succeed once, but soldiers have to be successful every time. There is no room for error," the Army officer said.

The snow will melt by May-June. The thick snow would have, by then, inflicted heavy damage to the fence. It'll take two to three months to repair it. By then it'll be October, when snow again starts in the upper reaches of the Valley.

The interregnum period will be ideal for infiltration, since many areas will virtually have no fencing on the LoC. That's the time the security forces face their biggest challenge.