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Cross border infiltration up in J&K

A senior army officer says the infiltration has picked up and there have been serious incidents of firing from across the border.
By Binoo Joshi | IANS, Rajouri
UPDATED ON JUL 14, 2008 12:45 PM IST

It is the perfect setting for infiltrators to cross into Indian territory - tall bushes, haze, intermittent rains and undulating hills dotting the well-guarded but porous boundary in Jammu and Kashmir. And, on top of it, a cover fire allegedly by Pakistani troops helps militants to cross over into Kashmir with heavy arms and ammunition.

"The infiltration has picked up and there have been serious incidents of firing from across," a senior army officer, posted in the Nowshera sector on the Indian side, told IANS on condition of anonymity as service rules don't allow him to speak to the media.

"It is almost a throwback to the pre-ceasefire days," the officer said, referring to the Nov 26, 2003, ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.

The infiltration, he said, is taking place on a scale "not seen before in the past five years".

India and Pakistan are locked in a truce on the border - the 744-km Line of Control (LoC) which divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries and an international border along parts of Jammu.

However, there have been occasional allegations from India that Pakistan was trying to push armed guerrillas into Kashmir. Nevertheless, officials have admitted that the infiltration has remarkably decreased due to border fencing and other measures taken by the Indian Army.

Pakistani troops on July 10 allegedly opened indiscriminate firing on Indian posts in the Kishna Ghati area, along the LoC in Poonch district, as Indian troopers were engaged in preventing a "major" infiltration bid. The army believes it was a group of eight intruders.

There have been many attempts at infiltration, some effectively foiled by the alert Indian troops, almost on a weekly basis, according to the officer.

Infiltration started picking up in May after melting of snows in the Himalayan passes.

"By now, according to our estimatem, more than 70 militants have crossed over to this side from the south of Pir Panjal only," the army officer said.

Police sources also confirmed that they have received reports that "new faces have been sighted" in the Budhal, Thanna Mandi, Surankote and Bafliaz areas of Rajouri and Poonch districts.

The army sources conceded that the barbed wire fence, which is 12 feet high and runs all along the LoC, has not stopped the infiltration. "It is just a deterrent, not a fool-proof system against the infiltration."

This barbed wire fence has its own problems. It gets damaged during snowfall every winter. The repair takes its own procedural delays and militants take advantage of this, said the officer.

"They (militants) have also developed techniques of jumping (across) the fence, cutting the fence and also neutralizing it by using shock proof gloves," the army source said.

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