More than a week after the Srinagar-based 15 Corps said it was engaged in one of the largest operations on the LoC in recent years to thwart an infiltration attempt,the Army on Wednesday reiterated it was fighting a large group of well-trained infiltrators backed by Pakistani special troops.
But it failed to explain why no bodies or weapons had been recovered from the area of operations in Kupwaras Keran sector.
Rubbishing reports that Pakistani special forces had occupied a village on the Indian side of the LoC during the infiltration bid,15 Corps Commander Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh said the situation was well under control,and operations were still on nine days after first contact that has left five Indian soldiers injured.
Singh said the operation was launched in the Shalla Bhut area after militants tried to sneak in through multiple points. The operation has entered the ninth day and the infiltrators who sneaked into our side are 30-40 in strength, he said,adding that the Army had cordoned off the area from all sides.
The officer,who went public about the Keran encounter around the same time three terrorists were holed up in the Army camp in Samba after shooting dead four soldiers last week,said the Army was not in a hurry to retrieve bodies of the 10-12 militants killed in the infiltration bid.
For the Army this time bodies of militants are not important, Singh said,adding that even on Tuesday night,10-12 militants were seen in the area.
However,questions have been raised as despite extensive combing operations and deployment of reinforcements,there is no sign of any bodies to prove the killings,and no ammunition or weapons have been recovered.
Even as Singh said that firing was on,sources on the ground said while troops were still there,the operation was more or less over,and no verifiable contact had been made with the militants,indicating they may have left the area.
The Army claimed the infiltrators belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba,Jaish-e-Mohammad,Al-Badr and Hizbul Mujahideen.
The sources also said there was no sign of the bodies the Army was claiming were lying on the border. It is possible the bodies have been taken back to the other side, an official said.
Singh said the operation was taking time as troops had been asked not to act in a hurry. Also,precautions were being taken as the location is at an altitude of 10,000-12,000 ft,covered with thick forests and has rugged terrain.
Asked whether Pakistani troops were helping the infiltrators,Singh said: We have no information that any significant ceasefire violation has taken place. But the very fact that the incursion occurred indicates support from across the border,he added.