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Powerless along border-line

As the troops are stationed in the ?depth areas?, the LoC is unmanned -- giving the infiltrators a free run across the border.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2006 03:34 IST
Arun Joshi

The barbed wire fence separating India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) is “powerless”. Erratic electricity supply and “non-functioning” diesel generators have rendered the “sensors” and the “thermal imaging facility” useless at several points.

As the troops are stationed in the “depth areas”, the LoC is unmanned-- giving the infiltrators a free run across the border.

Infiltration has been high this year. According to sources, more than 400 terrorists have allegedly crossed over to India and the army is “silent” on the “power failure and security gaps along the LoC”.

On July 5, this correspondent wrote to the Northern Command on the “state of affairs” along the LoC, but the army has not replied till date despite several reminders. The consequence: Mass incursions and recovery of arms smuggled from across the border.

The dangers of infiltration are three-pronged. First, it swells rebel ranks and “encourages strikes”. Terrorist violence also adds to the “atmosphere of terror” and people refuse to cooperate with the security forces, fearing reprisals.

It also helps Pakistan achieve its “target of undermining Indian authority and sovereignty in Kashmir”.

The terrorists of late have been preying on “soft targets” like tourists, unsuspecting civilians and public places. Corps Commander, 15 corps, Lt Gen SS Dhillon, in a media interface on July 15, admitted that the terrorists were going after “softer targets” than security forces.

According to him, grenades have been their deadliest weapon this year in contrast to car bombs last year. Each new civilian strike in the Valley makes the “restive” nights longer for the political leadership. “Cross-border terrorism is a situation beyond our control. Only Pakistan can do something about it,” a senior government official told the Hindustan Times.

And the “dark” LoC poses a grave threat. terrorists have intruded into the Keran, Karnah, Gurez, Balakote areas along the LoC cutting through the fencing wire or dodging the “three-tier human” shield that the army has set up along the line.

Two groups comprising 22 terrorists sneaked into the Indian side at Balakote sector in Mendhar on June 16 cutting through 18-metres of the barbed wire. On July 15-16, they cut through another 10 metres at Tarkundi to enter Rajouri. An army spokesperson admitted that “infiltrators” were cutting swathes of the barbed wire fence.

In Gurez, terrorists took advantage of the non-functioning “sensors” and the security lapse. On June 30, when Maj Gen SK Singh, general-officer-commanding of 28 Infantry Division, told the media that “the troops had killed eight infiltrators in the Keran sector”, the place where they were killed was not mentioned.

The infiltrators were apparently killed in between the LoC and the fence-- separated by a distance of one km or more.

It has brought to light three alarming facts. First, the fence is of no use. The fence-- built at a cost of Rs 200 crore along the LoC-- has failed to deter the terrorists.

In winter, it is buried under the snow allowing easy “cross-over”. When snow melts, the fence is damaged. By the time, the army repairs it, autumn sets in and it is time for snow once again. The army is usually positioned in the “depth areas”-- not exactly close to the LoC at several places.

But the most serious aspect of the security breach is that the “sensors and thermal imaging system” that relay thermal images to help detect the “bids” are switched off at places.

When the sensors are in off-mode, images do not get recorded and the terrorists sneak in undetected.