October 1999 News


Army launches offensive in Kashmir, Pir Panjal

28 October 1999
Daily Excelsior

NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has launched a major offensive in the Kashmir valley and Peer Panjal ranges to thwart the intensified armed action by Pakistan-backed militants in the state after facing defeat in Kargil.

Additional troops have been deployed in the hinterlands for Counter-Insurgency (CI) operations and two special CI forces created for the purpose - ‘Kilo’ force to primarily carry out search and destroy operations in north Kashmir and ‘Romeo’ force in the Rajouri sector.

The responsibility of CI operations in the Valley and Jammu region, which was vested with the Director General of Rashtriya Rifles during the Kargil conflict, has been restored to the General Officers Commanding-in-Chief of 15 and 16 Corps, official sources said. Both the Corps Commanders have been reverted as Security Advisors to the State Government.

Despite operational commitments and a belligerent Pakistani posture along the Line of Control (LoC) which saw heavy battle during the Kargil conflict, additional battalions have been deployed to flush out the mercenaries and militants from forested areas and the higher reaches, they said.

Army Chief Gen V P Malik had recently told PTI that Pakistan was attempting to replicate in J and K the military strategy it followed in Afghanistan with its Army regulars and militants working as a single entity.

There is greater collusion of the Pakistani Army regulars and the so-called Mujahideens or militants. They are definitely working now as a single entity and not separate forces, Malik had said.

CI operations had earlier received a setback when certain units of the armed forces were moved from the Valley to Kargil sector in May last.

We did not have enough troops for offensive operations (against militants). The paramilitary forces were by and large protective and were not going in for offensive operations, the Army Chief had also acknowledged.

However in August, additional battalions were brought back from the Kargil front to resume offensive anti-militancy operations.

Since then, there has been improvement in the situation and September was a good month during which a large number of militants were killed, the sources said.

The offensive operations, carried out since August till now, have forced the militants to vacate their hideouts and bases in dense jungles in the higher reaches and they have suffered very heavy casualty and loss of stores.

Inter-group clashes have also been reported from the militant hideouts and communication network and supplies channels destroyed, giving them major logistic setback which would affect their sustenance during the harsh winter months, the sources added. (PTI)

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