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2000 militants lodged in PoK camps along
LoC: Army chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 19
Melting of the ice in the higher reaches of the strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir has emboldened the Pakistan-backed militants who are making a determined bid to sneak into the state in large numbers and engineer terror strikes.

Reports emerging from Army Headquarters say after lying low during the winter months due to heavy snow blocking the ingress routes through the inaccessible mountain passes, more than 2,000 ultras lodged in 53 camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) had literally opened up the 750-km long Line of Control (LoC) in the last one month.

Pakistanís claims of getting a hold on the militants and bringing down the infiltration have been laid bare with the ultras, many of them local Kashmiris, who had gone across for training in terror tactics, and foreign mercenaries were now making an all out effort to cross over into India and the first fortnight of this month has seen as many as 13 bids being made from across the border and the Army killing 48 militants.

Reports suggest that another alarming feature of the recent spurt in infiltration bids was that the militants were coming in heavily armed and in large groups of 15 or 20. The reason behind this tactic was to disperse in small groups soon after getting inside India and make it that more difficult for the security forces to track them down. Moreover, they were not willing to compromise their local contact as earlier the militants used to travel light and pick up the weapons from their contacts in the state after sneaking in.

Rise in infiltration was admitted here today by the Chief of Army Staff, General J.J.Singh, but he said that the situation was well under control. He also claimed that levels of violence had dipped by more than 30 percent as compared to last year.

Speaking to reporters on the occasion of the second anniversary of newsmagazine Force, the army chief denied that the recent spurt in infiltration was akin to a similar scenario in Kargil in 1999. He said the Kargil episode was not a classic case of infiltration and it was a well-planned operation. However, the ultras were now trying to infiltrate in small groups and hence there was no relationship between Kargil and the current scenario.

The Army chief also said the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of India Lt-Gen J.S. Lidder had expressed his concern to his Pakistani counterpart earlier in the day about the increasing infiltration bids when the two DGMOs talked on the hotline. This contact between the two DGMOs takes place every Tuesday. The Army chief said the terrorist infrastructure still existed in PoK and some other parts of Pakistan and the Army had reports that there were at least 53 camps still functioning there and 2,000 terrorists were lodged in them. The first six months of the year has seen more than 33 infiltration bids by the militants and the Army had accounted for more than 105 terrorists.

Operational commanders of the army do not rule out the possibility of the violence levels rising in Jammu and Kashmir and also admitted that the entire northern command stretching from the plains of Jammu-Pathankot to the rugged mountainous terrain of Gurez had become active as far as terrorist activities were concerned. Moreover, the terrorists were now trying new routes and the recent intrusion in the Gurez sector was one such example. Gurez is located at a height of more than 14,000 feet and is heavily forested and covered by snow and this area had rarely seen infiltrations in the last one decade. Given the rugged terrain and terrorists not frequenting the areas in the past, the Army presence was also not so dense as compared to other parts of the state, officials said. The terrorists, numbering about 15, managed to breach the anti-infiltration fence along the LOC and come at least 15 to 17 kilometres inside the Indian territory before they were spotted by a local on July 10. The Army managed to kill 12 in an operation lasting more than four days and a search was on to locate the remaining three, the Army chief said.

He, however, denied allegations that there was a lapse on part of the Army in allowing the militants to come 17 kilometres inside India.

He said the Army wanted to trap them in what he termed a tactical zone. It meant the troops occupying dominating heights and sealing off all escape routes before engaging the terrorists and liquidating them, General Singh said.

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6 of family massacred
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 19
Six members of a family were massacred by terrorists at Chattwas village of Mahore in Udhampur district today.

According to Mr Satvir Gupta, DIG of Udhampur-Doda range, the heavily armed terrorists barged into the house of Mohammad Akhtar and killed him along with five other relatives.

The terrorists first exploded grenades at his house and later targeted the inmates.

The others killed have been identified as Mohammad Mushtaq, brother of Akhtar, Shakir Mohammad, his father-in-law and his sons, Mohammad Hussain, Mohammad Salim and Talib Hussain.

The slain belonged to the Gujjar community and were discussing the marriage of the daughter of Mohammad Akhtar when the terrorists barged into his house. One of his relatives managed to escape.

Meanwhile, the Army killed three terrorists of the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit in Poonch district today and seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition from them. The recovery includes three AK rifles, 11 grenades, 5 IEDs and 210 rounds.

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