Indian Army strikes terror camps, Pak posts

Indian Army
A videograb of the damage caused in Neelam Valley, PoK.

New Delhi: Six to ten Pakistan Army personnel were killed and three terror camps destroyed in a retaliatory action by the Indian Army opposite the Tangdhar and Keran sectors in Jammu and Kashmir, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Sunday.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here, he said another terror camp was severely damaged in the action by the Indian forces and the retaliation had caused substantial harm to the terror infrastructure across the Line of Control (LoC). Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was briefed about the retaliatory action, the Army chief said. In a major counter-offensive after Pakistan’s unprovoked firing, the Indian Army carried out heavy artillery strikes on Sunday, targeting four terror camps and several Pakistani military positions in Neelam Valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

“So far, as per the information available with us, 6-10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed and nearly as many terrorists,” Rawat said, adding that more information on terrorist casualty was being obtained. “Three terror camps have been destroyed and on the fourth one also, we have caused severe damage,” he said, adding that according to unconfirmed reports, the number of terrorists killed in the retaliatory strikes could be higher.

The Army chief said the terror camps destroyed by the forces were located in Athmuqam, Kundal Shahi and Jura, and the Army had information about a camp in Leepa Valley too. “So, these are the camps we had information on and these are the camps we have targeted. And people who were supporting them, also the Pakistani posts, bore the brunt of our retaliatory action as well,” he said. If Pakistan continued with such activities, the Indian Army would not hesitate to retaliate, Rawat asserted. He said of late, the Army had received information that terrorists were coming closer to the camps in the forward areas. In the last one month, repeated infiltration attempts were made from the Gurez, Keran, Machil, Uri sectors and south of Pir Panjal, he said, adding that Pakistani soldiers were resorting to ceasefire violation to provide support to the infiltration bids by terrorists.

“The festival season is approaching, Diwali is round the corner, we had picked up a definitive signal that some of the terror camps north of Pir Panjal were active. Terrorists had arrived at these camps and that they were likely to infiltrate. On Saturday evening, an attempt was made in Tangdhar to infiltrate…where we retaliated…Pakistan, at the same time, carried out some firing on the post, in which we did suffer. Two of our soldiers got killed and one civilian also died,” Rawat said. “All this (firing) was done to ensure that they can push in the terrorists,” he said.

“Before they could attempt the infiltration, it was decided that we target the terror camps. We had definitive information and coordinates of these camps,” the Army chief said.

Lashing out at Pakistan, Rawat said the other side was desperate as the first snow had fallen and advised the neighbouring country to “not perpetrate terror in the territory” on the Indian side. “Three days ago, we had foiled an infiltration bid in the Machil sector and recovered a rucksack and other equipment,” he said. On the artillery action, the Army chief said as of now, there was a kind of “radio silence” on the other side and “we are not even able to pick up any mobile communication from across (the LoC), which implies that there have been casualty, damage, which the Pakistan Army does not want to highlight”.

“They do not want to highlight or project this damage as the world will know that no action had been taken (by them) to curtain the acts of terrorism from across the border. They are trying to keep it under the wraps. But, definitely, as and when we get it, we will provide you with more evidence,” he said.

On the situation in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the State, the Army chief said while Indian forces were trying to restore normalcy in the Valley, attempts were being made by elements across the border to disrupt peace. “Ever since the abrogation of special provisions (for Jammu and Kashmir), we are getting repeated inputs about infiltration by terrorists from across the border,” he added.

“Gradually, things are returning to normal in the valley, but obviously somebody is working behind the scenes, at the behest of terrorists and agencies, some within and some outside Pakistan and PoK to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere,” he said.

“Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been briefed regularly,” he said. “He has regularly been in contact with me on this issue,” Rawat said. “As I said earlier, the political leadership and the military are working in close coordination and that is continuing. “The political leadership is fully backing us on countering terror in whatever way and no restriction has been put. The mutual consultation goes on regularly,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal denied that the Indian Army targeted terror camps in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and said it could arrange a visit of diplomats from P5 nations to the area to expose Indian “falsehood”. Spokesperson of Pakistan Military Major General Asif Ghafoor, in a series of tweets, claimed a total of five Pakistani civilians were killed in the Indian strikes. Pakistan also summoned Indian Envoy Gaurav Ahluwalia to condemn the firing by Indian troops.