Hill Kaka Operation Sparks Row

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Spelling out a new, more aggressive strategy to deal with terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the army says it will fence large tracts of the Line of Control.

This was said at an informal press briefing held to clear the air on the army’s recent operations against a major terrorist base in Hill Kaka near Jammu, in which 62 terrorists were killed.
The army has called the operation a huge success.

Defence experts have, however, described it as a huge security failure as the terrorists were able to infiltrate 35 kilometres into Indian territory and had been operating from there for more than three years.

Operation Sarpvinash

On April 21 ,the army destroyed fortified bunkers in the Hill Kaka region, north of Surankote. Some of the bunkers were built so strong that helicopter gunships had to be used to destroy them.

Still, more than 200 terrorists are believed to be hiding among the surrounding mountains.

The army says the ongoing Operation Sarpvinash is part of an aggressive new strategy, which includes fencing the Line of Control.

At an informal press briefing in Delhi today, senior army officials denied that this was a repeat of a Kargil-like intelligence lapse.

Army Headquarters say though that it has specific intelligence on the terrorist base from the beginning, it had to delay action till the 5,000 strong nomadic population agreed to leave.

However, the local commander told NDTV 24×7 that details of the base emerged only after a terrorist was captured from the base in February.

In fact, Army Headquarters says smaller raids were launched in the region in the past two years and more than 400 terrorists killed.

Loopholes emerge…

Several questions are being raised:

• Why did the army establish a permanent presence in the area?
• Terrorists used satellite phones. So weren’t these tapped?
• Local commanders say its other security agencies which have the hi-tech equipment to tap these.

The guns, ammunition and diaries put on display for the media have Pakistani markings.
It is ironic that the Hill Kaka operation, instead of taking political centrestage, may fade from the headlines before security concerns that surround it are addressed.


By Nalin Mehta in www.ndtv.com - May 29, 2003
http://www.ndtv.com