Battery shortage hits Army's night watch

For patrolling along the border, the Army relies on hand-held thermal imagers (HHTI)—binoculars that uses infra red imaging to see the enemy even in pitch dark upto a distance of 3 km. These are imported equipment and run on batteries.

Besides the HHTI, the Army has night vision goggles and long-range observation system. But goggles are useful only up to 300 metres and cannot see if a terrorist hides behind a bush.

As a fully-charged battery lasts about two hours, each device will require 5-6 battery for a 10-hour-long vigil in the night. But the troops guarding the borders with Pakistan and China in Jammu and Kashmir do not have enough batteries.

“The problem arose because we switched from imported batteries to indigenous one. An order has been placed with Bharat Electronics Ltd. Bangalore to produce these batteries,” a source told Deccan Herald.

An Army spokesperson, however, asserted there was no shortage of HHTI batteries and the problem was a transient one. While BEL may take its some time to supply fresh stocks, commanders at the border feel jittery because of a new intelligence input—close to 600 terrorists are waiting at the border camps to infiltrate into the Kashmir Valley.

“They may sneak in, taking advantage of the winter, as pressure from Pakistan is increasing,” said an officer. Infiltration attempts are on the rise this year, according to Army sources. Till September 2010, as many as 426 attempts were made to infiltrate into the Valley. There were 342 and 485 attempts in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Till
November, 37 terrorists and seven Army personnel were killed in border conflict.

Union Defence Minister A K Antoy has repeatedly stated that Pakistan does little to dismantle 42 permanent terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which are still active.

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