Forensic experts have established that the terrorists who attacked the 12 Infantry Brigade headquarters in Uri began their journey at a base in Pakistan, highly-placed sources familiar with the investigation have told The Indian Express.
The findings, the sources said, are based on digital data recovered from a severely-damaged Global Positioning System (GPS) unit recovered from the terrorists after the September 18 fighting that claimed their lives.
The data, recovered from the Garmin eTrex GPS unit carried by the terrorists, show the men travelled by road along the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar road towards the Line of Control on September 17, before beginning to hike into the mountains short of Chakothi, the official border point.
Following their penetration of the Line of Control south of Chakothi on the night of September 17, the men continued to walk eastward, traversing three ridgelines before climbing towards the village of Darah Goolan. They rested there before assaulting the 12 Infantry Brigade headquarters in the bowl below.
“It’s clear from the timeline of the terrorists’ movements, which we now have, that they were able to penetrate the three-tier defences on the Line of Control with relative ease, and evade Army patrols deeper inside Kashmir as well,” a source familiar with the case said. “This is an obvious source of concern.”
From data recorded on the set, investigators have determined it was first powered-up on September 4, a fortnight before the attack, at a known Lashkar-e-Taiba facility in the Leepa Valley — one of the areas later targeted by the Indian Army in the cross-Line of Control strikes in retaliation for Uri.
There has been no official investigation into how the four attackers succeeded in penetrating the Line of Control defences to cause the Indian Army’s worst single loss in the insurgency in Kashmir, but military sources said it is believed they used ladders to scale the barbed-wire fence.
GPS sets, which have a wide range of commercial applications, rely on radiowave signals from a network of satellites to guide users through unfamiliar terrain. The terrorists who attacked Uri were carrying two sets, but one was too badly damaged during the fighting for data to be recovered.
Last month, the Lashkar-e-Taiba admitted responsibility for the attack, naming one of the four terrorists involved in the operation as Muhammad Anas, who operated under the alias Abu Siraqa.
Posters that the organisation put up in his home town, Gujranwala, invited townspeople to join funeral prayers for “lion-hearted holy warrior Abu Siraqa Muhammad Anas, who sent 177 Hindu soldiers to hell at the Uri Brigade camp… and thus drank from the glass of martyrdom”.
National Investigation Agency detectives had also recovered syringes, painkillers, other medications and packets of ready-to-eat food bearing markings of Pakistani manufacturers from the terrorists killed in the operation.
Pakistan is yet to initiate criminal proceedings against either members of the organisation, or individuals involved in planning the operation.
In September, responding to a question, Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said “when Indians themselves have no proof, then what kind of action can Pakistan take? They have only levelled an accusation, and that too only to defame Pakistan”.
Indian government sources said that no information has emerged to corroborate claims that two Pakistani men who were later arrested were linked to the attack. The claims had formed the basis of a dossier handed over to Pakistan, asking for follow-up investigation by that country into the Uri attacks.
Faisal Husain Awan, a resident of Halka 4 in Potha Jandgran near the village of Koomi Kote, and Ahsan Khursheed, of Mohalla Kidri in the village of Khilayana Khurd in Muzaffarabad’s Hattian Bala tehsil, had been held on suspicion of aiding the four terrorists, involved in the Uri attack, cross the Line of Control.
Government sources said the two men, both students, are now believed to have strayed across, not an uncommon feature in the Uri area where populations reside close to the Line of Control. “No evidence has emerged so far that the men knew the attackers,” an official said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines