SRINAGAR: The cordon and search operation against militants hiding in the forests of North Kashmir's Kupwara, which was on for the last 27 days and left two terrorists and as many Armymen dead, has been called off, a senior army officer said today.
"We cannot continue indefinitely in the form we were doing it...cordon and searches... it is a risky business because the terrorists are waiting till the last moment before opening fire. "Those operations we have stopped," General Officer Commanding of Army's 15 Corps Lt General Satish Dua told PTI.
Lt Gen Dua said while the militants can open fire on "anything that moves", the soldiers have to be careful in dealing with a situation where the terrain is difficult and thickly forested. "For him (militant), he fires at anybody whereas we are scared that we might fire at our own chaps," he added. This has brought to an end one of the the longest anti-militancy operations in Kashmir that last 27 days and left two militants dead.
The Army also suffered major losses in the operation as Colonel Santosh Mahadik and soldier were killed in the operation while another officer was injured. Asked about the militants hiding in the forests, the GoC said,"We have not found them yet".
"They are somewhere there. Manigah operations in terms of cordon of the villages and searches we have carried out... the terrain is such that there are hides, caves we have searched ... we have not found them," he said. He said the normal operations in the area will continue but not on the scale these were going on for the past few weeks.
The Corps Commander, however, dismissed reports in a section of media that the Army was preventing the villagers living in the vicinity of the operation area from leaving the place. "The way it was portrayed in the media was not correct. We did not stop anyone from leaving except for the day when there was firing. Yes we stopped people from going into the forest where we were carrying out search operations. But we did not stop anyone going to school or from going to Kupwara (town)," he said.
On the another operation going on in the forests of Bandipora district, Lt Gen Dua said, "Operation is still going on. Some movement (of militants) has been noticed. So we are at it". The army officer said while infiltration of militants had come down drastically over the past decade due to the installation of anti-infiltration obstruction system, it had not come down to Zero yet.
"Along the Line of Control, between one post and the other there are gaps. Overall, since the fencing has been erected, the infiltration has dropped drastically.
"However, it has never become zero. Sometimes an odd chap might sneak through -- say out of 20 attempts, one gets through -- rest are shot or they run back," he said.