Army shows world how Pak runs camps, pushes infiltrators
29 September 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Season’s first snowfall on 16,000 ft high altitude ridges has splashed smiles on the faces of regular Army soldiers for a different reason this year It coincided with killing of 15 Pakistani infiltrators and, simultaneously, the visit of the military attaches and defence diplomats of 24 countries. More opportune time to establish Pakistan’s hand behind 13-year-long Kashmir insurgency and the current drive of infiltration was never possible. A night after troops of 109 Infantry Brigade finished with eliminating all the 15 members of an infiltrating group in this rugged terrain, 2 Km short of LoC, defence diplomats of 24 countries reached here on an unprecedented mission. They saw for themselves how highly indoctrinated and well-trained militants were pouring in from northern areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and, most of them, dying at the hands of Indian army. The diplomats from New Delhi Missions of the two dozen countries included representatives of USA, Russia, France, Australia, Japan, Israel, Zambia, Kenya, DPR Korea, Myanmar, Nepal, Italy and Ghana. They also included Brig Gen Firdous Hassan Khan of Bangladesh, Brig Gen Abdullah Saleh Awad of UAE, Col Masood of Afghanistan, Lt Col Batyrbay of Kazakhistan and Col SP Pasichnyk of Ukraine. During our 55-minute-long flypast in four MI- 17s of Army over the labyrinths of barren features—snow-clad since yesterday—we saw a number of human bodies, scattered in different ravines. The Indian Army officials accompanying us said that these were the 15 Pakistani militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba who were intercepted while infiltrating from Neelam valley of PoK and killed in a week-long operation. They explained that the Pakistan Army formations of Kamri, Minimarg, Skardu and Athmuqam were just across the lofty ridges in front of us. According to them, this group of Jehadi militants had been pushed in by the Pakistan Army pickets of Jamal and RC-II—just a stone’s throw away from our flying machines. Since at Dawar—the capital of Gurez valley—we had taken off from a spot which had been hit by a Pakistani rocket, destroying a bus and killing three civilians on just September 18th, fearing an attack anywhere ahead was meaningless. The site of encounter, we were told, was in between the Tulel valley towns of Baruab and Gujran. From the skies, we are also shown the pre-1947 pedestrian track which, for centuries, joined Kangan and Drass with Skardu and Gilgit. Dawar is 140 Kms and just a 40-minute flight from Srinagar but in no way different in terms of accessibility and communication. Pakistan’s shelling last week has turned the town into ruins at several places. People explained to the foreign diplomats and mediapersons how difficult were their living conditions due to 'no attention' from the State Government. Eighty-six kilometre Bandipore-Dawar motorable road remains closed for seven months a year due to heavy snowfall. Indian Air Force pilots have no permission to fly any civilian patients to Srinagar. Army helicopters do it occasionally. BSNL’s telephone exchange has been 'out of order' since December last year. MLA Nazir Gurezi, who has successfully raised a many burning problems of the segment in the recent Assembly session, said that the NC president Omar Abdullah was the only prominent politician to have visited the far-flung Valley this year. During his visit last fortnight, Omar played with the exchange keys for an hour but failed to establish contact with Srinagar until Army came to his rescue. 'We read EXCELSIOR four days after you do in Srinagar', says Lt Gen Jagdesh Chandran. At his ceremonial briefing, at the Brigade headquarters, Maj Gen J K Mohanty, General Officer Commanding Kupwara-based 28 Infantry Division laid repeated stress on one point That Pakistan was continuously enrolling militant recruits, giving them sophisticated weapons and training at scores of camps in PoK and Pakistan territories and pushing them into Jammu & Kashmir for Jehad and bloodshed. He said that earlier the infiltrators used to come in from the easier Nowshera Naar. Now, they had chosen the treacherous track over Mashid Gali, near Baruab, which led the latest group straight into the Army trap. He said that members of the wiped out group had shown high degree of professionalism in retaliation and they seemed to have received advanced training in combat warfare. It took the Army a full week and death of two soldiers—Lt K D Singh and a non- commissioned officer—to neutralise the 15 militants. Mohanty asserted that all the training camps, which Pakistan had closed down temporarily, had been re-activated and the same were sending in 'more trained, more well-equipped cadres' since July this year. While as 10 infiltrations had been reported in this area in September 2002, this year it was 22 in the same month. 'They call them relief camps or offices of irrigation department, but we know they are all guerrilla training camps', said he. Pakistani troops, he said, would divert the attention of Indian Army by firing in some other direction in order to facilitate the infiltration from some other route. In reply to a foreign military diplomats’ question, Mohanty said that Pakistani troops had been using brigade level field artillery against Indian positions and civilian population. In addition to about 20 AK-56 rifles and pistols, troops have seized about a dozen diaries and prayer books from the slain militants. They are officially described as Pakistani militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba but the seizure includes the Jaish-e-Mohammad thinktank Maulana Masood Azhar’s 'Tohfai Sa’aadat' published by Maktaba Hassan, Abu Sad Hafiz Abdul Hanan’s 'Ausaf-e-Mujahid', published by Maktaba Nasiriya Faisalabad, 'Hisul Muslim', published by Maktaba Ahl-e-Hadith and 'Imani Hamsafar', published by Idaratul Khair. Personal diaries of the slain militants— which are full of Quran, Hadith and Jehadi poetry—indicate how deeply they are indoctrinated and put on the path of blood spilling.