Srinagar, Oct 8 (PTI): A massive infiltration bid by terrorists backed by suspected Pakistani special forces, the biggest after the 1999 Kargil fiasco, was foiled by the Indian army which today called off its 15-day-long major operation in Keran sector along the LoC in Kashmir.
“I have now given direction to call off the concerted search (in Keran sector). But our counter-infiltration deployment is being strengthened. We are now going to launch operations which are intelligence based, which are surveillance based so that we can eliminiate and meet the challenges,” General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Army?s Northern Command Lt General Sanjiv Chachra told reporters here.
The Army has been maintaining that it has been on a concerted search operation in Keran sector for the last 15 days after it foiled a major infiltration attempt by terrorists backed by suspected Pakistan special forces last month.
Lt Gen Chachra, who arrived in the Valley on a four-day visit on Saturday, said there was attempt to infiltrate at multiple points in the Keran sector.
Earlier in the day, Army chief Gen Bikram Singh said the infiltration bid by terrorists in Keran sector has been foiled. “It was a desperate infiltration bid, which has been foiled,” Gen Singh told reporters at Hindon air base on the sidelines of the Air Force Day parade.
Lt. Gen Chachra said, “We had very specific intelligence of their operation. We knew where they were and we were prepared for it. Some of these infiltration attempts have been eliminated and some of them have been foiled.”
He said eight terrorists have been killed and 59 weapons including 18 AK rifles and war-like stores captured.
The 30-40 infiltrating militants were well equipped carrying supplies that would have lasted them 20 to 30 days, Lt Gen Chachra said.
“We have recovered signal, communication equipments, night vision devices, rations that would have sustained them for almost 20 to 30 days,” he said.
“There were 30 to 40 militants in the infiltrating column at Shaalbhati village in Keran sector. We carried out a number of searches in that area and adjacent areas. We have found eight bodies,” he said.
Replying to a question on rest of the militants, he said, “(Bodies of) some of them might have been dragged back. Some of them were used in other subsequent operations in neighbouring areas.”
The Army commander said infiltration attempts from across the Line of Control (LoC) will continue till the winter sets in.
“The infiltration bids will continue till winter sets in. More such attempts will be made. We had an infiltration bid in a neighbouring area last night,” he said.
He said the desperation among the militants to infiltrate into Kashmir was due to the dwindling number of ultras in the Valley. “This is the time when they can reinforce their numbers,” he said.
Lt Gen Chachra said, “Sanctity of the LoC is well maintained (by the Indian side). This is our charter, this is the mandate given to us. The sanctity of the LoC can never be trampled.”
In response to a question, the Army commander said infiltrating militants have always received the tacit support of the Pakistan Army establishment.
“We are almost on eyeball-to-eyeball and we can see each other. At such a point, when a large group of terrorists infiltrate….you mean to say that that is happening without the complicity of the Pakistan Army? This is ridiculous,” he said.
Lt Gen Chachra said most of the arms recovered from the area of the operation have Pakistan marking.
The senior officer said he visited the five soldiers injured in the gunbattle and also interacted with the officers and jawans on the ground.
“Their morale is high. The injured boys are recovering and there is no need to worry about them,” he added.