Dug in 2016-17, it may have been used for intrusions
All measures in place to counter Pak designs: IG BSF
JAMMU, Jan 13: The Border Security Force (BSF) today detected yet another cross-border tunnel originating from Shakargarh forward village of Pakistan and opening in Bobiya village along the International Border (IB) in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district amid indications that the tunnel might have been dug as early as in 2016-17 but this was part of investigations.
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The tunnel was 150 meters long and opened in a field at village Bobiya located close to the International Border with Pakistan and was detected during anti-tunneling exercise undertaken by the BSF, official sources told the Excelsior.
This is the third tunnel to be detected by the BSF on the International Border in Samba and Kathua districts during past six months and ninth in a decade.
“Detection of the tunnel has averted major catastrophe as it could have been used by Pakistan to push militants into Jammu and Kashmir ahead of Republic Day,” sources said but added that some of the sand and other bags found inside the tunnel were dated 2016 and 2017 which indicated that the tunnel might have been old. However, it was part of investigation as to whether the tunnel had already been used by the militants for infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan or not.
On a number of occasions, security forces have intercepted militants on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway including Nagrota, Jhajjar Kotli etc, who had sneaked from Samba-Hiranagar sector of the International Border and were heading towards Kashmir. A number of militants have been killed at Nagrota and Jhajjar Kotli. The Over Ground Workers accompanying the militants had revealed that they had already transported many militants, who had infiltrated from the International Border to Kashmir.
“This will be part of investigations whether the tunnel unearthed today by the BSF had been used by the militants for infiltration though it will be very difficult to probe this aspect,” sources said.
The tunnel was 150 meters long and had depth of 25 to 30 meters with two to three feet diameter which was enough space for the militants to infiltrate, sources said.
They added that the tunnel had origin at Shakergarh, a Pakistani village on the border, opposite Bobiya village in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district. The tunnel opened in a field right on the border.
Sand bags made by Engro Polymer and Chemicals Limited, Port Qasim, Karachi, Pakistan and some other bags were also found at mouth of the tunnel, which once again established Pakistan involvement in facilitating digging of the tunnel for infiltration by the militants to cause terror activities.
Inspector General of BSF, Jammu Frontier, N S Jamwal along with other senior officers rushed to village Bobiya soon after the detection of the tunnel.
“The opposite of this side is Pakistan’s Shakergarh which is notorious for having launch pads and bases of militants. We have inputs available with us as a result of that we are sensitive to whatever is happening here,” Jamwal said, assuring that all necessary measures are in place to counter Pakistani designs.
He said sand bags with Pakistani markings are evidence of the hand of Pakistani establishment in the construction of this tunnel, which is identical to the previously detected tunnels having a depth of 25 to 30 meter with two to three feet diameter.
Asked whether this tunnel was recently dug or it’s an old one, the IG BSF said it is a matter of investigation.
However, he said some of the sand bags recovered from the tunnel have 2016-17 year of manufacture which suggest that it is an old tunnel.
“We were searching for this tunnel for a long time and its detection was the effort of the anti-tunneling operation which is underway all along the IB. Whether any infiltration had taken place through this tunnel in the past can be said after completion of our investigation,” he said.
Jamwal, however, said the BSF is sure that no infiltration had taken place through this tunnel in the recent past.
“We are undertaking some development works here and have strengthened the security in view of the anti-tunneling drive,” he said.
Referring to the killing of two Pakistani infiltrators in Surankote area of Poonch district and an encounter in Srinagar last month, the IG said Pakistan is always looking for an opportunity to push terrorists into Jammu Kashmir, whether it is through Line of Control (LoC) or IB.
“They are continuing with the attempts but we are fully alert to the situation. Our alertness resulted in detection of underground tunnels and shooting down of a Hexa-copter loaded with a huge cache of arms and ammunition,” he said, adding the border protection grid comprising Army, BSF and police are working jointly to scuttle Pakistan’s attempts to push terrorists and weapons into this side.
Last year, the BSF detected two such tunnels in Samba district on August 28 and November 22 following successful infiltration by two groups of terrorists who were subsequently neutralized in separate encounters along Jammu-Srinagar National Highway while they were enroute to Kashmir in trucks.
While three Pakistani terrorists affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) were eliminated in a gunfight in Nagrota area near Jammu after they were intercepted aboard a Kashmir-bound truck in January last year, another group of Pakistani terrorists armed with weapons and a large quantity of grenades were killed at the same spot on November 19.
Investigations suggested both the groups infiltrated into this side through underground tunnels.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Rangers violated ceasefire by resorting to unprovoked firing on forward posts and villages in the Border Outpost area of Gurnam in Hiranagar sector, the officials said.
The firing from across the border started around 10 pm Tuesday, prompting strong and effective retaliation by the BSF, they said, adding the cross-border firing between the two sides continued till 2.25 am on Wednesday but there was no report of any damage on Indian side.