February 2016 News

350-km LoC In Kashmir Valley Has 40-50 Infiltration Routes

26 February 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: The nearly 350-km-long Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir has many 'porous infiltration avenues' which are close to launch pads across the fence, claimed defence sources. There are of 40-50 routes where from militants find it easy to sneak into the Valley, sources said. Even if the LoC is buried deep under snow the infiltration never seizes. The militants killed in the recent gunfights at Chowkibal in Kupwara district and Pampore in Pulwama district had 'infiltrated recently'. The Army, however, has maintained that infiltration from across the LoC into Kashmir was down to a 'trickle' as compared to infiltration figures of earlier years. Defence sources said that infiltration avenues are correlated with launching pads, general areas and the reception area. 'The group of trained militants is put at a launch pad in PoK where they are provided weapons. They along with a guide do probing actions for five to six days along the LoC before sneaking into the Valley,' said a Defence official. 'And when Pakistani Army fires at our posts, the waiting militants get an opportunity to sneak in as our observation gets affected.' The official said infiltration routes keep on changing from time to time and over the years some routes have become active while others have turned dormant. Of late, major infiltration attempts are being made in the frontier Kupwara sector and it is turning out to be a key area for militants to sneak into the Valley. The infiltration along the LoC in Baramulla and Bandipora districts has dipped even though militants have not stopped infiltrating through these sectors. Sources said there were 16-17 launching pads across the LoC in the Kashmir region. The LoC in Kashmir runs from lofty peaks of Gulmarg in Baramulla to Kupwara and Gurez in Bandipora district. Along its long and arduous course the LoC also passes through several fresh water streams. It is fenced with barbed wire and sophisticated equipment like UAVs, high-power cameras, thermal imagers and long-range observation system to notice any movement. Two divisions of Army -one based in Baramulla and another in Kupwara man the stretch. The easiest and shortest infiltration route to the Valley is through the Keran sector. The sector, sources said, has three infiltration avenues. Though there is heavy presence of Army in the area to counter any infiltration attempts, militants often try to enter into Kashmir through this sector. After Keran, the other favourite infiltration route in Kupwara is Machil. Almost all the infiltrators coming into the Valley through the Kupwara sector have to cross the vast Shamsabari forest range to reach the hinterland. The Tangdhar sector in frontier Kupwara district had been laid inactive for a long time, but since last six years the route has got activated again. The toughest infiltration route, however, is through the Gurez sector of Bandipora district. Militants sneak through Kanzalwan and Nowshewra ridges before entering Bandipora. The Gurez sector is surrounded by 14,000-feet high mountain range. In the Uri sector of Baramulla, traditional infiltration routes emanate from high mountain passes. The sector is dormant now unlike past when it was the favourite route for militants. Same is the case with Gulmarg, which has not seen much activity in the recent past. 'The routes can get active any time as launch pads are there to push militants,' said another Defence official.