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Friday, October 4, 2013

Is Pak repeating Kargil in Shala Bhata in Kupwara

It has been 14 years since the Kargil war, but the memory of the bloodshed remains fresh in the minds of the brave soldiers, who responded to the call of duty and defended the country’s borders, and their families. Nation also remembers them ……… the  Kargil War was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC).  It was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC, which serves as the de facto border between the two states. The war is one of the most recent examples of high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain.  The ghosts of Kargil would haunt us for ever….

Now another lovely place is in news for wrong reasons ~ this lovely district located in the extreme north-west of Kashmir valley – Kupwara is not in news for its scenic beauty but because of infiltration. District Kupwara was carved out form erstwhile District Baramulla in the year 1979. The District Headquarter "Kupwara" is situated at a distance of 90 kms from the summer capital of state, i.e. Srinagar. The District is situated at an average altitude of 5300 feet from the sea level.  There are some bad packets on the line of control.

In Aug 13, there was news of major infiltration bid foiled in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district.  A defence spokesman said troops of the Vajra division, on alert after specific intelligence on likelihood of infiltration from Keran sector in Kupwara, detected movement of a group of militants around 250 metres ahead of the fence, 1.5 km on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC).  Now it is more trouble as reports state that Pakistan armymen have taken over Shala Bhata village in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir. According to IB sources, the troops were engaged in a 'small-scale war' with the Pakistan Army. Some reports suggest that intermittent firing is going on at the Line of Control (LoC) between Indian Army and Pakistan Army regulars.

Here are excerpts of  an interesting factual article of Firstpost : Fourteen years have passed, almost to the month, since Union defence minister George Fernandes promised Pakistani infiltrators in Kargil would be “flushed out in forty-eight hours”. He said, one day later, that the army “had cordoned off the area entirely” and that Indian objectives would be realised “within the next two days”. It took two months and nine days-and the lives of hundreds of India’s finest men–before the war was won. The whole sordid story of how high officials sent officers and men to their deaths in an effort to hide their incompetence has since become known. Kargil, not surprisingly, hangs like a ghost over Pakistan’s Shala Bhata incursion. Fighting enemies.

In New Delhi, officials insist that the intrusion into Shala Bhata, near Keran in Kashmir’s Kupwara district, is no Kargil. They’re right: that time, the intrusions ranged across hundreds of kilometres, and involved division-sized forces. Three lessons are key–and, unless politicians come clean with the country on just what is going on and what they mean to do about it, the risks of further crisis ahead are very real. First, this isn’t a infiltration, this is a full-blown incursion: The army has publicly cast this as just a larger version of the kind of jihadist infiltration which takes place all the time along the Line of Control. This is an intrusion intended to send a message–not just another infiltration attempt. Its worth noting, parenthetically, that this kind of thing has happened before. In 1989, for example, Pakistan seized control of the Dalunang heights in Kargil’s Kaksar sector. Colonel Anil Shorey has told the story of India’s ill-fated attempts to retake the heights, a conflict the media did not discover for years afterwards. It was only in 1999 that Dalunang was retaken.

Second, there’s plenty of method in the Pakistan Army’s madness: The Shala Bhata incursion needs to be read in its context. Ever since 2008, when Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took over as Pakistan’s army chief, there has been a a steady escalation steadily escalation of hostilities on the Line of Control. Things reached new heights in recent months, with a series of incidents like the macabre beheading of two Indian soldiers, and the subsequent execution-style killings of five more. There’s good reason to believe, though, that the Indian Army’s been dishing out as good as its got: in recent weeks, army sources say, at least two Pakistani posts in the Mendhar sector have been obliterated in Indian offensive action, and another three rendered in-operational by sustained fire. The Shala Bhata incursion may be intended to signal the Pakistan army is willing to up the stakes–and to test just how far a war-averse Indian security establishment is willing to go to assert dominance on the Line of Control. Third, this operation may not drag out much longer–but there’s a high probability of more trouble ahead. Army sources are telling Firstpost there’s some signs the intruders have pulled back–possibly in response to the realisation among Pakistan’s generals that the media outcry will force harsher action. The Indian Army, though, still hasn’t recovered the bodies of intruders it says its killed. This gives us some idea about the slow progress of Indian army operations.

Either Indian troops have been unable into the areas where the intruders’ bodies are, or the intruders have a logistical line open into Pakistani-occupied Kashmir and have evacuated the corpses. Either way, this operation hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory. The lack of a firm retaliatory response is likely to embolden Pakistani strategists–and that’s very bad news for India. ~ and it does makes a very sad reading for the Nation

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

4th Oct 2013.

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