A series of daring, broad daylight attacks by a mixed team of Pakistan-backed terrorists and suspected regular troops has thrown up questions on defences along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Jammu area, even as intelligence inputs suggest that such activities are likely to increase in the coming days and are linked to the change of government at the Centre.
Sepoy Bhikale Uttam Balu of the 2 Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) was killed and two others injured in an attack along the LoC in Akhnoor on Sunday. Sources said the attack is a cause of serious worry and there could be a slip-up in defences at a time when extreme caution is needed.
According to sources, a Border Action Team that is likely to have consisted of Pakistani regulars infiltrated almost a kilometre inside Indian territory and planted a mine to target a patrol party of the MLI. Dismissing speculations that it may have been an old mine, officials said the explosive was planted deliberately to target the patrol.
Besides the mine blast that killed Balu, the patrol reportedly faced small arms fire from a group of unidentified armed personnel who were waiting in ambush. What has come as a surprise is that the attack was carried out in broad daylight, at around 10:30 am, and the infiltrating party could not be identified in advance by the range of sensors and cameras on the LoC.
“A search of the area yielded Pakistan-made mines and other equipment which clearly suggests involvement of Pakistan and terrorists from across the LoC,” said an Army spokesperson. Intelligence inputs suggest the action was carried out by a group similar to the one involved in the January 2013 attack in Mendhar, in which two Indian soldiers were killed, including one who was beheaded.
The Akhnoor attack, said officials, is the latest in a series of daring attacks that have been carried out on the LoC. On Sunday itself, another attack was carried out in the Rajouri sector that was almost identical in approach to the Akhnoor action. At 8:30 am, an intruding party of armed men tried to target an Indian Army patrol with an IED, before unleashing small arms fire. The attack was foiled, but no casualties were inflicted on the intruding team.
On May 10, a Gorkha battalion posted in Poonch was attacked by infiltrating militants, but at least two of them were killed after action by a jawan that ended with hand-to-hand combat. Intelligence inputs suggest that the coming days may see an upswing of attacks on the LoC, not all necessarily planned to infiltrate troops.
As per Indian estimates, of the 42 terror training camps near the LoC, at least 17 are active and conduct armed training for militants. While ceasefire violations have been less this year as compared to the same period in 2013, the terror infrastructure apparatus is intact in PoK.