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Terror camps back in J&K hills

Militants in the state are up to their old tricks again. They are growing in strength and setting up their camps in hilly terrains.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2006 04:41 IST
Arun Joshi

Militants in the state are up to their old tricks again. They are growing in strength and setting up their camps in hilly terrains.

The trend, reminiscence of the Nineties, has seen militants establishing themselves firmly in Bandipore mountains in north of the Kashmir Valley and Poonch district’s Gursai and Bafliaz. These areas have acquired the “liberated zone” status like Sopore and some parts of Srinagar-Batmalloo and Rainawari in the early nineties. Militants are also equipped with sophisticated weapons, including flying bombs, the pilot-less aircraft—like the ones first recovered in 1998–99.

To decimate these militant bases, there is a need to launch a “snake-and-vulture” approach—which means simultaneous ground and air assaults—as it was done in Hill Kaka about three years ago. While security agencies do not appear to be making any such move in the near future, militants are busy strengthening their bases in hilly regions—from where they can keep a watch on the activities in surrounding areas. Some of them even have anti-aircraft guns.

With the Indian army focusing on checking cross-border infiltration, these camps are for the time being spared of any security assault. The recent firing at the LoC in the Poonch sector and recurring attempts—including several successful ones—to infiltrate from across have led to beefing up of security along the border.

Troops at the LoC are busy tackling multiple problems like cutting of the fence wire by infiltrators and incidents of firing. Infiltrators are throwing new challenges by managing to dodge the electronic night vision devices. For troops, intercepting intruders from across has become a major task. They are apprehensive that more terrorists are now attempting to make it to this side than they had done in 2004 and 2005—after the November 2003 ceasefire.

A clear indication of this came last week when Corps Commander of 16 corps Lt Gen TK Sapru admitted: “Infiltration is on.”

However, no major terror strike has been reported after July 11’s serial grenade explosions in Srinagar. According to sources, lying low is a strategy by militants to reinforce their bases in the upper reaches. “This is ominous, for they could be preparing for something big,” sources said.