With LoC turning porous, a strike when the iron was hot

09/30/2016

NEW DELHI, Sept. 30 : The Union government had kept the Army strike across the Line of Control under the wraps, but had put the forces guarding the border on maximum alert two days ago, said a senior Home Ministry official. The official said the Pakistani Army had violated the ceasefire in Mendhar and Bhimber Gali along the LoC on Wednesday night.

“We expected retaliation in other sectors along the Pakistan border and did not want to take any chances. Though post-Uri, the Border Security Force and the Army were put on a heightened alert, it was revised further two days ago,” the official said.

The Army strike is a testimony that the LoC is back to being the preferred route by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence and the Army to push militants into Indian territory.

IB too crowded

In the past three years, officials recorded most of the infiltration attempts and ceasefire violations along the 197-km International Border, which runs along Jammu district. In 2013, there was massive displacement of Jammu’s villagers along the border. From November 2015, however, the focus shifted back to the LoC and this year alone, the Army has thwarted more than 20 attempts.

The Border Security Force (BSF) guards the 2,308-km border with Pakistan, running from Gujarat to Jammu. In Jammu, 192 km of the border, which is referred to as a working boundary by Pakistan, is manned by the BSF, while the remaining 8 km is secured by the Army. The LoC is entirely secured by the Army.

An official explained that in 2015, there were around 95 infiltration attempts along the IB, but this year only 12 such attempts were reported. “One reason for them to shift their focus back to the LoC is perhaps the thin population on both sides. The IB, which runs along the Jammu district, is heavily populated and any tension here amounts to high civilian casualties on both sides,” said a senior Home Ministry official.

Evergreen route

 

Former IPS officer Arun Chowdhury, who handled the Kashmir desk during his stint with the Intelligence Bureau, said an opportunity for surgical strikes along the LoC always existed. “This type of surgical strike is effective and helps keep pressure on the Pakistan’s Army who facilitate the entry of terrorists in the Indian territory by providing cover fire. It is like a game of kabaddi — you cross the line, hit the target and come back. Never handle a terrorist in your own garden,” said Mr. Chowdhury. (THE HINDU)

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