Army Shot Off 'fewer' Militants, More Mouth
10 July 2003
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Intelligence failure is not the only embarrassment for the Army at Hill Kaka. Its own documents show the Army had exaggerated the number of militants killed in Operation Sarp Vinash. Consider these: • May 24, 2003: Romeo Force Commander Major General Hardev Singh Lidder briefs the media about Operation Sarp Vinash. He says that as many as 65 jehadis have been killed by the Army in Hill Kaka from April 21. • May 29, 2003: Director General Military Intelligence Lt General Richard Khare reiterates the same number of terrorist deaths. • July 9, 2003: Army Spokesman Brigadier Shruti Kant circulates a note on Operation Sarp Vinash. The document shows that only 50 terrorists were killed till May 29. • July 10, 2003: Brigadier Kant tells The Indian Express that the circulated note was not official but only a backgrounder paper. The Army 'document' records the First Information Reports filed by the Army with the Jammu and Kashmir Police as evidence that 65 terrorists were killed during Sarp Vinash. But details of the FIRs provided by the Army reveal that only 45 terrorists were killed by the Army till May 24, the day Lidder briefed mediapersons. On the day of Lt Gen Khare's briefing, the Army was still short by 15 terrorists. In fact, the same document states that 'Operation Sarp Vinash was launched on April 21, 2003' but in its list of 65, it also includes an operation at Dofali (FIR No 39-3 dated April 18, 2003). FIRs filed by the Army between May 25 and June 15 show that 20 terrorists were killed after May 24. Similarly FIRs filed on May 25 at Surankote police station (FIR 69-03 dated May 25, 2003) show five terrorists killed. Subsequently, FIRs filed at Surankote police station on June 4 and 21 (FIR No 73-3 dated June 4, FIR No 0043-BC-16 RR-A dated June 4, 2003, FIR No 24-6 dated June 21) add another 15 terrorists taking the Army's claim up to 65. Interestingly, the Army also kept widening the area of operation from the Hill Kaka bowl to 'fringe areas' as well as areas 'North of the Pir Panjals' to add to their original claims.