Fierce Indian Army action on LoC in PoK’s Neelum Valley
2 Indian soldiers, civilian martyred in Tanghdar
Rawat briefs DM, confirms use of artillery guns
JAMMU, Oct 20: Indian Army last night carried out one of the fiercest action on terror launch pads in Neelum Valley sector of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) opposite Tanghdar and Keran sectors of the Kashmir valley razing to ground four launching pads located close to the Line of Control (LoC) in which 6-10 Pakistan army soldiers and almost an equal number of militants were killed.
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“Number of casualties on Pakistan side could be more as there was kind of radio silence on the other side of the LoC which was targeted by the Indian troops in view of reports that Pakistan army was trying to infiltrate large number of militants into the Kashmir valley after completion of their training,” official sources told the Excelsior.
The Indian retaliatory action came immediately after two Indian Army jawans and a civilian were martyred and three locals were injured last night in Tanghdar sector of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Highly placed sources, however, said at least 20 militants were killed in the Indian artillery fire, adding the figure may be quite high as the four terror launch pads were hit directly in the Indian action and destroyed. Five to seven militants are accommodated by the Pakistan army in one launch pad before trying to push them into the Indian territory.
Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat, who briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh this afternoon in view of the situation arising out of strong military action by India to hit terror launch pads along the LoC in PoK, told reporters that artillery guns were used to target terrorist camps in PoK and on the basis of reports that they have been getting, 6-10 Pakistani soldiers have been killed, three camps destroyed and similar number of terrorists also killed.
“Confirmed reports tell that casualties to terrorists are more than the information we have as there is kind of radio silence on the other side, not even able to pick up any mobile communication from across,” Gen Rawat said, adding: “We have caused severe damage to terrorist infrastructure. Terrorist camps opposed Tanghdar sector have been destroyed”.
Asserting that they had coordinates of these camps, the Army chief said it was decided that the Army target the terror camps across. “We have caused severe damage to terrorist infrastructure”, he added.
Gen Rawat said: “last evening an attempt was made in Tanghdar to infiltrate terrorists (by the Pakistan army) and we retaliated. Pakistan carried out attack by firing at our post in which we did suffer, but before they could attempt the infiltration, the Army decided to target the terror camps across”.
He said the Army had prior information that the terrorists are coming closer to camps in forward areas as during last one month they have seen repeated attempts from different sectors to infiltrate terrorists.
“Ever since Article 370 was abrogated from Jammu and Kashmir, we have been getting repeated inputs of infiltration by the terrorists from across the border to disturb peace and harmony in the State. Gradually, things are returning to normalcy in the Valley, but obviously there is somebody who is working behind the scenes at behest of terrorists and agencies that are some within and some outside country in Pakistan and PoK, who are trying to disrupt peaceful atmosphere,” the Army chief said.
He added that if Pakistan continued with such activities, the Indian Army would not hesitate to retaliate.
Highly places sources said terror launch pads in PoK’s Jura, Athmuqam and Kundalsahi in Neelum Valley sector across Tanghdar and Keran sectors were targeted by the Indian Army using artillery guns last night following credible inputs of significant number of militants operating there.
According to sources, going by the destruction on PoK side following Indian Army action and credible inputs, at least 6-10 Pakistan army soldiers and almost an equal number of militants were killed. However, some sources put number of the dead militants around 20. They confirmed loss of four forward terror launch pads besides some posts of the Army in Neelum Valley sector
Frustrated by the Indian attack on terror launch pads, Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs today summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia and lodged protest over the killings.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is scheduled to visit Eastern Ladakh tomorrow, has been closely monitoring the situation on the LoC in the aftermath of destruction of terror camps and killing of Pakistan army soldiers and militants in the Indian troops’ action.
Rajnath has been briefed on the situation by the Army chief, sources said.
Prior to the Indian Army action, two soldiers were martyred and a civilian killed and three others injured as Pakistan troops violated ceasefire in Tanghdar sector of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district in the Kashmir valley.
A senior official said that Pakistan troops targeted forward posts in Tanghdar sector last night which started at around 11 pm and continued till 4 am. They targeted a post where two soldiers were martyred in Pakistani shelling.
At Gunde Shat, a shell landed on the house of one Mohammad Sidiq Khawja, 50, son of Ahad Joo Khawja killing him and injuring his brother Mohammad Maqbool Khawja. The shell damaged their house and other family members escaped unhurt.
Two more structures including a house were damaged in the shelling. Two injured civilians have been identified as Mohammad Shafi son of Ghulam Rasool and Yasir Iqbal son of Zamir Iqbal of Gunde Shat.
An Army soldier Santosh Jope of Signals Unit was martyred in Hathlanga area of Uri sector on October 13. Earlier a porter, Ishtiaq Ahmad, was also killed in Kamalkote sector of Uri in North Kashmir’s Baramulla sector on September 3.
In the last one month, repeated infiltration attempts were made from the Gurez, Keran, Machil sectors and south of Pir Panjal, he said, adding that Pakistani soldiers were resorting to ceasefire violation to provide support to the infiltration bids by terrorists.
Gen Rawat said terror camps across the border were targeted as the Army had definitive information.
“The festival season is approaching, Diwali is round the corner, we had picked up a definitive signal that some of the terror camps north of Pir Panjal were active. Terrorists had arrived in these camps and that they were likely to infiltrate.
“Before they could attempt the infiltration, it was decided that we target the terror camps. We had definitive information and coordinates of these camps and in the retaliatory action that our forces have taken, we have caused severe damage to the terror infrastructure across (the LoC),” the Army chief said.
The terror camps opposite the Tanghdar sector were destroyed, he added.
Asked if Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was briefed by him on the Tanghdar incident, the Army chief answered in the affirmative. “He (Singh) has been briefed regularly,” he said.
“The Defence Minister has regularly been in contact with me on this issue,” Gen Rawat said.
“As I said earlier, the political leadership and the military are working in close coordination and that is continuing,” he added.
In a statement, the Indian Army said Pakistani army initiated unprovoked ceasefire violations to assist infiltration by terrorists into Indian territories in the Tanghdar sector last evening.
“As a result calibrated escalation of area weapons was undertaken by the Indian side in which terrorist launch pads and several Pakistan army posts giving incidental protection to these launch pads and certain gun positions were hit,” it said.
It said Indian Army retains the right to respond at a time and place of its choosing in case Pakistan army continues to assist terrorist activities across Indian borders.
Sources said Pakistan has been trying to push terrorists into Kashmir to trigger unrest in the wake of India’s decision to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcate the State into two Union Territories.
Soon after Government announced its decision to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, the Army was put on high alert along the LoC to effectively repulse any possible Pakistani misadventure.
The sources said the pounding of Pakistani positions and terror camps cannot in any way be compared to surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army in September 2016 on terror launch pads across the Line of Control. However, the offensive was the most significant one after India carried out the Balakote strike in February.
On February 26, India carried out an aerial strike on a terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e Mohammad terror group in Pakistan’s Balakote, in response to Pulwama terror attack in which 44 CRPF personnel were martyred.
Pakistan Air Force retaliated the next day by trying to target military installations but it was repulsed. The PAF downed a MiG-21 Bison in an aerial combat besides capturing IAF pilot Varthaman, who was handed over to India on March 1. Varthaman had shot down an F-16 of Pakistan before his Mig21 Bison was hit.