Gen Bikram Singh briefs Antony on disturbances along LoC

Army Chief General Bikram Singh on Monday left the Army commanders’ conference to brief Defence Minister A K Antony on the volatile situation along the western border.

There were two separate incidents of killing of Indian soldiers within 10 months and a major infiltration attempt last month.

The one-on-one meeting between Antony and Singh was held in the wake of the Army filing several first information reports at Jammu and Kashmir police stations, raising questions on the success of the Keran operation, as the FIRs did not match claims made by a top Army officer.

Briefing reporters in Srinagar on September 26 – the day of the audacious terror strike on an Army camp in Samba – General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh, said the Army foiled a major infiltration bid along the Line of Control in the Keran sector, eliminating 10-12 among the 30 militants who are believed to be trapped there.

“Troops at the LoC in the Keran sector spotted a group of 30 heavily armed militants trying to cross over to India from Pakistan and challenged them which was followed by a fierce gunfight. Heavy fire fighting is currently going on. Our forward troops have reported seeing 10 to 12 bodies of the terrorists,” he said.

But the Army could not recover the bodies from the Shalabato village when the operation was called off on October 8. Halfway into the Shalabato operation, the Army claimed success in two other counter-insurgency operations nearby. The encounters occurred at Gujjurtur, almost 25 km south-west of Shalabato and Fateh Gali, 30 km south of Shalabato.

The FIRs filed in various police stations of Kashmir only mention about the terrorists killed in the two encounters.

Officials in the Army headquarters admitted that bodies could not be recovered from Shalabato because of the difficult terrain.

They also said recovering the bodies was not a priority for the Army as the operation might have exposed the Indian soldiers to more enemy fire. Ceasefire violations continue in both Jammu and Kashmir.

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