The Army on Tuesday called off one of its longest operations against infiltrators in the Keran sector of North Kashmir with Army Chief General Bikram Singh stating that it was impossible for the militants to intrude without the knowledge and support of the Pakistan Army.
The Indian Army had started the operations at the Keran sector, which falls near the Line of Control (Loc) in the Kupwara district, after a group of 30-40 infiltrators had entered the Indian territory by cutting the border fences.
The head of the Northern Command, Lieutenant General Sanjiv Chachra, informed on Tuesday that the operation in the Keran sector has ended. “I have given directions to call off the concerted search,” he said.
He said the soldiers have killed eight of the guerrillas, whose bodies and weapons were already displayed before the media.
Chachra asserted that the Pakistan Army had backed the infiltrators. “It would be ridiculous to think that this can happen without the support of the Pakistan Army,” he said.
His views were backed by Gen Bikram Singh, who told a news channel that the Indian Army has got much evidence in a letter found with a militant, information and intercepts.
“The covering fire that is given to them to infiltrate comes from the Pakistan posts… I am very clear, having known the deployment along the LoC, no activities can take place without the support of the Pakistani army,” he added.
The Army, however, dismissed earlier reports claiming that the militants had occupied posts near the LoC in the abandoned Shalbhato village of the Keran sector.
“All the Indian Army posts on the LoC are intact,” Chachra said, adding “Let me assure you, the sanctity of the Line of Control is well maintained”.
On earlier claim of the Army that it killed 15 militants, the commander said, “Some of the bodies might have been dragged back and some of the terrorists involved in this infiltration bid might have been used in other operations.” Genral Officer Commanding of the 15 Corps General Gurmit Singh, while speaking to the reporters in Srinagar few days ago, had said the Army killed 10-15 militants, whose bodies were lying on the ground.
So far, the infiltrators were not identified. But, Gen Gurmit Singh said the infiltrators belonged to various militant groups which included Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Al-Badr.
Gen Bikram Singh added that the Army is “prepared to meet any challenge”. “Although searches have been called off in the area, we have re-deployed and strengthened our counter-insurgency grid. They might try other areas next time,” he said.