Army re-calibrating counter-intel grid as Pak tries to push terrorists who are COVID-19 positive
New Delhi, Apr 28: The Indian Army is undertaking steps to re-calibrate its counter-infiltration grid in the wake of a huge number of terrorists arriving at the launchpads along the India-Pakistan border.
The Intelligence Bureau has said that there are nearly 450 terrorists waiting to infiltrate into India and hence the Army has also taken steps to ramp up counter-insurgency strategies to check the intrusion.
The Army is also concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. The IB had said that there is a good chance that Pakistan may send in infected terrorists. This would be a big challenge to deal with, an IB official told OneIndia.
Lt Gen B S Raju, who is commanding the strategically-located XV corps in Kashmir, has also asked his formations to take adequate precautions during patrolling along the Line of Control (LoC) in view of the coronavirus outbreak with the possibility of the infiltrating terrorists having infection not being ruled out.
The field intelligence units of the Army coupled with inputs comprising HUMINT (human intelligence) and TECHINT (technical intelligence) indicate that around 300 terrorists, mainly of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayiba are waiting across the border to sneak in, officials said, citing reports from Srinagar collated in the national capital.
As many as 16 launch pads along the LoC had been activated in the recent weeks by the Pakistan Army and its external snooping agency ISI which included those located in difficult terrains like Nowshera and Chhamb from where the terrorists are known to enter the Gulmarg area of north Kashmir.
The reports said Gen Raju has been regularly holding meetings with the formations to work on the re-calibration of Counter Infiltration Grid (CIG) to ensure that no terrorist gives the slip and reaches the hinterland after crossing the LoC.
The increased attempts from across the border to push in militants are also being factored in by the Army in its new approach.
In the event of an engagement at the LoC with the terrorists, the troops have been asked to handle any bodies with utmost care as they could be infected with the novel coronavirus, the officials said.
The CIG has been made much more robust and the coordination among various security agencies in the grid smooth, the officials said, adding some changes have been made in the troop deployment which includes putting an additional layer of troops.
Officials said a heavy concentration of terrorists was witnessed across Leepa valley, Athmuqam and Dudniyal, the same area in higher reaches of Keran sector in north Kashmir where a group of five terrorists had infiltrated on April 1 and who were subsequently neutralised on April 5. Five army personnel also lost their lives in the gunfight.
The launch pads like Dumail, Sardari and Dhakki, which are normally activated in late summer, had also witnessed the presence of terror groups this time, the officials said.
Among other launch pads that had seen presence of terrorists included Shardi, Neelum valley, Nowshera and even Chakoti, Khoja bandi and Haji Peer. These camps were used by the terrorists to sneak into the Uri army camp in 2016.
As many as 19 soldiers were killed when four terrorists entered the camp on September 18, 2016. All the infiltrating terrorists were subsequently killed. This incident led to Uri surgical strikes in which the Army's special forces targeted the terror camps across the LoC.
Despite the virus spreading like wildfire, Pakistan has lined up scores of terrorists and is looking to push them into India. Terror activity in Pakistan continues unabated, the officer also said.
They are looking to take advantage of the situation and send in as many terrorists as possible into Jammu and Kashmir, the officer also said. Terrorists of both the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have been sent closer to the border and Pakistan has been looking for an opportunity to send them into India. The IB picked up intercepts that suggested that Pakistan has activated its launch pads along the Line of Control and the International Border.
The officer cited above said that Pakistan is taking advantage of the situation, while the security forces are busy with helping the administration fight against the coronavirus outbreak. The officer said that the launchpads have at least 200 terrorists waiting to infiltrate. Pakistan also resorts to ceasefire violations even in today's situation so that they can provide cover fire to the terrorists.
There has been a huge mobilisation that has been taking place since February. These terrorists numbering around 200 came in batches. Today, they are looking to take advantage of the situation and infiltrate to the LoC and International Border.
The recent operation in the Keran sector showed that Pakistan continued with its terror activities. Five terrorists were killed in the operation, while, five elite commandoes too were martyred.
Pakistan has been losing terrorists by the dozen in the various encounters in the Valley.
They have lost a good number of overground workers and terrorists. Most of the top commanders have been wiped out and Home Ministry data for January-February show that 24 terrorists were killed while 48 were arrested. This explains the desperation, the IB officer says.
Meanwhile, in a positive development, Pulwama became the first coronavirus free district in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.