A DAY after the Army killed two members of Pakistan’s Border Action Team (BAT) in north Kashmir’s Uri, the Army foiled a big infiltration attempt in Rampur sector of Uri in the early hours of Saturday and killed six infiltrators. According to the Army, this is the second big infiltration attempt foiled in the last one week. Last Saturday, the Army had killed four infiltrators in Nowgam sector of Kupwara district. Three soldiers were also killed in that encounter, which lasted for two days.
This was also the first major infiltration attempt by militants through the forests of Nambla village, located right on the Line of Control (LoC), after many years. The LoC fencing passes through the village. In fact, the infiltration took place in the same sector where Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had visited last week and interacted with soldiers.
The Army said that patrol and ambush parties of 4 Garwhal regiment intercepted the group of infiltrators between the forward line of Hathlanga and Nambla village, ahead of strategic Army post Rustum, which overlooks Pakistani posts and bunkers on the other side of Hajipeer nullah. Sources in the Army said that it appears the group of infiltrators had come from Khawaja Bandi village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It is suspected that they had crossed the LoC at night.
Defence spokesman Rajesh Kalia told The Sunday Express that soldiers intercepted a group of armed intruders 500 to 600 metres inside the LoC on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday. A firefight ensued, and the six armed intruders were killed, Kalia said. “Four AK rifles and one pistol, one UBGL (under-barrel grenade launcher) and a large quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from the intruders,” Kalia said.
A resident of Nambla said, “We heard a series of blasts and firing near the forward posts in the forests. The firing stopped at 6 am (on Saturday). After many years we are hearing that so many infiltrators had tried to cross the LoC through this part.” Given the close proximity to the LoC of the area’s villages — Nambla, Hathlanga, Garkote, Balkote and Silikote – there is a high concentration of Army, Border Security Force and police personnel there. Officials said that the infiltrators could have come to attack Army installations in either Uri, Rampur or Boneyar areas. “This is a secure area, and infiltrators using this route can be spotted at any place since there are several layers of security in the villages,” a senior police officer deployed in the area said.
Sources said the place where infiltrators were intercepted is an old track that militants used before 1995, and that the infiltrators killed must have been trying to reinvent that route. On Friday, the Army had killed two members of Pakistan’s BAT after they were intercepted by soldiers of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) near Gawalta village, close to the LoC fencing in Uri sector. An AK rifle and a pistol were recovered from the attackers, officials said.
Officials said the BAT personnel were carrying limited weapons, possibly with an intention to hit and run. Over the last few weeks there have been reports that militants are trying to sneak into the Valley through different areas of north Kashmir by taking advantage of the damaged fencing on LoC due to heavy snowfall this winter. According to some intelligence inputs, a few militants had recently sneaked in through this corridor.
Officials suspect there there is a high probability of infiltration from across the LoC in the time up to July. After the two attempts in the last seven days, in which 10 infiltrators were killed, the Army has issued high alert along the LoC.