AN OPERATION to look for a group of militants who are believed to have infiltrated into Kashmir from across the border entered the third day in Uri on Tuesday. While some of the men are suspected to have turned back following exchange of gunfire, which left a soldier injured, a few could have got in, marking only the second successful infiltration attempt since India and Pakistan reached a ceasefire on February 25, as per the Army.
The infiltration attempt, launched late on Saturday night, coincided with the fifth anniversary of a suicide attack on the Army’s brigade headquarters in Uri in north Kashmir. It is also the first since the Taliban rode to power in Afghanistan, triggering apprehensions of a fallout in the Valley.
Mobile and Internet communications were shut in the border area of Uri, before being resumed Tuesday night, and the forces as well as residents have been put on alert to watch out for any suspicious movement. Sources said the troops have not had any contact with the men since that initial exchange. “Search operations are still on,” Defence spokesperson Emron Musavi said.
On Monday, the General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen D P Pandey, had spoken of the ongoing Uri operation while saying there had been no violation or instigation from the Pakistan side since the February ceasefire. The top-most Army officer in the Valley had also said that while there had been infiltration attempts which had not been successful, there had been no covering fire or other support from the Pakistani side in the recent past.
Army sources said six-eight militants are believed to have tried to infiltrate across the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri. “When the Army spotted them, there was a brief exchange of fire but they escaped,” said an officer. “We are not sure whether they turned back or managed to get deep into our side. But we believe that at least some of them have successfully managed to infiltrate. We have closed all the infiltration points and have mobilised forces to track them.”
Army sources said that apart from Uri, soldiers in other sectors of the LoC in the Valley, including Kupwara and Gurez, had been put on alert.
Addressing the media Monday, Lt Gen Pandey had played down the threat due to the rise of the Taliban, while informing that the only successful infiltration in the Valley this year had been in July in the Gurez sector. The three militants who had crossed over had been killed later in the forests of Bandipore.