More desperate bids at infiltration from Pak side this winter, say security forces
Although some militants might have managed to sneak in given the porous nature of the border, but crossing over to the Indian side has become difficult now.
Srinagar: Six people have been killed in a fresh flare-up on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir over the last two days, sparking fears within the security agencies that the coming winter might be the toughest in terms of infiltration attempts by militants from the Pakistani side.
On Friday, the army said it had killed two infiltrators in north Kashmir’s Handwara area, about 70 km north of Srinagar. One soldier lost his life in the encounter. Security forces had launched an operation in Wadder Bala village of Handwara in Kupwara district following intelligence input about the presence of two to three heavily armed militants there. The Srinagar-based defence spokesperson, Col NN Joshi, while confirming the killing of two militants and a soldier, said another army man was also injured in the gun battle.
Just a day before the Handwara encounter, the army had claimed to have killed three militants on the Line of Control in Saujiyan sector of Poonch in Jammu. "An infiltration bid was foiled by troops on LoC in Poonch at 5 pm on Thursday in which three heavily armed militants were killed," defence spokesperson, SD Goswami, said.
The surge in violence comes against the backdrop of the deep freeze in relations between India and Pakistan following the cancellation of talks between the national security advisers in August last year. While the recent brief meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of climate summit in Paris had raised hopes of improvement in ties, nothing has changed on the ground.
According to army sources, hundreds of militants are waiting to cross over into Kashmir before the winter sets in. From the last three weeks, the Army has laid a siege to nearly 50 square km area in the dense forests in Kupwara where they believe at least three militants are hiding. This combing operation, one of the longest by the defence forces, was undertaken after Colonel Santosh Mahadik, Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, was died after being critically injured in an encounter with militants near Haji Naka in Kupwara.
Last week, General officer Commanding (GoC) of army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt General Satish Dua, had said that the militants involved in this encounter managed to sneak in from across the border. "Although there are rumours that more than three militants are hiding in the forests, it is not entirely true. According to our information, there were five militants; two have been already killed and three are still at large," a senior Army officer told Firstpost.
The officer said the militants are surrounded and the forces are closing in on their location. "It is nothing big but we want to find out their routes, which is why the operation has lasted for such a long time."
However, there's some confusion whether the militants killed in Handwara on Friday are the same militants whom the army has been chasing in Kupwara forests. What is clear, though, is that the militants have been making desperate attempts to cross over to the Indian side from Pakistan.
Although some militants might have managed to sneak in given the porous nature of the border, but crossing over to the Indian side has become difficult now. On 27 November DK Pathak, the Border Security Force chief said that the militants were trying to make "desperate" and "daring" bids from Pakistan side to infiltrate and such desperate attempts have seen a considerable jump in 2015.
Pathak put the number of infiltration attempts along the International Border, which stretches from Akhnoor to Poonch in Jammu region, at 62 by the end of November this year. Last year, there were 48 such bids in the corresponding period. "We find desperation on their part as they are making very daring bids to cross over but somehow they have not been successful," he said ahead of BSF's golden jubilee in New Delhi.
It is not clear how long the operation in Kupwara will continue, but Col Joshi said the search will continue till the time the besieged militants are caught or killed. Such a security situation is unprecedented for the security forces battling insurgency in the last 25 years in Kashmir.
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