Army Calls Off Search Operation In Keran

Army Calls Off Search Operation In Keran

8 October 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Army chief Gen Bikram Singh today sought to reject the perception that the Keran incident was on the pattern of Kargil intrusion of 1999, saying it was just an infiltration bid by terrorists but suggested the complicity of Pakistan Army in the episode. He insisted that terrorists were not occupying any higher ground but sitting in a “nallah” (rivulet) near the Line of Control in Kashmir valley. “It was a desperate infiltration bid, which has been foiled,” Gen Singh told reporters at Hindan on the sidelines of the Air Force Day parade. He was asked about the incident in Keran in Kashmir where the Army was engaged for the last 15 days with a group of 35-40 militants about 300-400 metres inside Indian territory having a supply-line to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, an incident which reminded about the Kargil intrusion of 1999 when Indian posts were occupied. “A large number of (TV) channels have talked about this being an intrusion. It is not. If this was intrusion, the adversary would go and occupy dominating ground which is defensible,” he said. Seeking to downplay the incident, he said, “In this case, they were sitting in a nallah. Which adversary is going to dominate an area by sitting in the nallah?” At the same time, he suggested the complicity of Pakistan Army. “On the LoC, we are in eyeball-to-eyeball situation. It is impossible for the terrorists to do any activity without Pakistan Army’s knowledge. There is no way that they can operate there without Pakistan Army… I am clear that no terror activity can take place along the LoC without Pakistan Army support,” he told Times Now. Asked about evidence in this regard, the Army chief said the terrorists were provided cover fire to infiltrate in Keran from Pakistani posts. The Army chief said that seven of the terrorists involved in the Keran sector had apparently pulled out from there and tried to infiltrate from other areas into Kashmir valley but were gunned down by the security forces. IAF chief NAK Browne was also asked by reporters whether the Keran incident reminded him of the Kargil intrusion. “Instead of saying that this is Kargil-type situation, nobody is coming or nobody is ocupying anything. Be rest assured. The Army jawans are well trained and have adequate fire power,” he replied. “Because of the terrain and the situation there we do not want to expose our boys. The good part is that we have not lost any of our boys,” Browne said. Asked why the Army troops have not been able to recapture the positions held by the Pakistanis, he said, “Let us not hype the situation. There is a word called ‘savlanuth’ in Hebrew. The meaning of that word is patience.” In Srinagar, Army today said that they have called off search operations in Keran sector near the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir that were going on for last fortnight after a major infiltration bid took place in the sector. General Officer Commanding (GOC) Northern Army command, Lt General Sanjiv Chachra told a news conference here. “I have now given the direction to call off concerted search but our counter-insurgency deployment is being strengthened. We are now going to launch operations which are intelligence based, which are surveillance based so that we can eliminate and meet the challenges.” The Army Commander said that there were desperate infiltration attempts at multiple points in Keran sector and Army knew it and planned operations accordingly. “There was a desperate attempt of infiltration in Keran sector during 10 to 14 days at multiple points. We had very specific intelligence of their operation. We knew they were coming and we were prepared for it. Some of these infiltration attempts have been eliminated and some of them have been foiled. We had eight terrorists killed and 59 major weapons including 18 AK Rifles and war like stores recovered”, said the Northern Army chief. The GOC said that initially it was a bid made by 30-40 infiltrators who after being intercepted tried to sneak in through neighbouring areas of the sector. On the Army reports that 15 militants were killed in Shala Bhatu area of Keran sector, the GOC said: “The initial bid at 4-5 points was made by 30-40 infiltrators. We have seen them. Some of them have fallen. Some of them might have been dragged back and some of them have been used in operations in neighbouring areas.” The General said that infiltration attempts by the militants will continue till winter sets in and Army along the LoC is prepared to deal with it. “These bids are not going to end, they will continue till winter sets in. Last night we had an attempt in neighbouring area. More such attempts will be made and our troops are prepared. Our troops will conduct intelligence based operations now”, the GOC added. Lt General Chachra said that Army posts on the LoC are intact and dismissed reports that some of the Army posts or any area on the Indian side of the LoC had been taken over by the militants. “The sanctity of the LoC is well maintained. The sanctity of the LoC can never be trampled”, he said. To a question about the involvement of the Pakistan army in abetting the militants in infiltrating into Kashmir valley, the Army Commander said that without their involvement infiltration can’t happen. “They have tacit approval of the Pakistani army. The 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 of time, a large group of terrorists infiltrating … you mean to say that this is happening without the complicity of Pakistan Army? This is ridiculous,” he said. The Lt General said that most of the arms recovered from the scene of operation have Pakistan marking. He said that the militants were carrying ration for 20-30 days. The Northern Army chief said that he met injured army jawans at the hospital and their morale is high. “They are on their way to recovery”, he added.