August 2007 News

LoC Fence 'powerless' As Militants Sneak Across

4 August 2007
The Daily Excelsior

Srinagar: Militants sneaking across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir are timing their infiltration attempts to coincide with the time when generators powering the electrified fence are switched off in violation of regulations. This has caused concern in the security establishment, especially as the generators are not supposed to be switched off during the night, official sources said. The barbed wire along the LoC can be cut only if generators deployed by the army are turned off. A terrorist caught near Baramulla in north Kashmir told interrogators that militants monitored the trend of switching off of the generators by the army and planned their infiltration bids accordingly, the sources said. Infiltration across the LoC has been high this year when compared to last year. Officials say at least 300 militants have sneaked into the state while other reliable estimates say the figure could be as high as 500. The ease with which the militants cut the fence has caused concern as anything touching it is bound to trigger an alarm if the generators are switched on. An inquiry carried out by the State Government into the cutting of the fence found that in most instances, the generators were either turned off or had developed technical problems when the infiltration occurred, the sources said. While some Central security agencies said the generators were probably switched off so that the troops could get 'peaceful sleep', Army officials privately said they were turned off to save fuel for 'rainy days'. Most infiltration bids involving the cutting of the fence occurred in a 267-km stretch in Kupwara district of north Kashmir and in Poonch and Rajouri areas of Jammu region. Some militants arrested after infiltrating into the Kashmri Valley said they would send animals, including dogs, to the fence to set off alarms. This process was repeated several times after which the sentries, fed up of hearing the high-pitched alarms, switched them off, the militants said. The militants would then begin the infiltration process, the sources said. The militants sneaking across the LoC often engage troops manning the second tier of security, who have had to bear the brunt and even suffer causalities, they said. One such incident occurred on July 29, when a heavily armed group of militants infiltrated into the Kashmir Valley after cutting the fence at Ghodetal, 15 km north of Uri. The army was warned by security agencies about this attempt but no precautionary measures were apparently taken, as a result of which Col Vasanth V of the Maratha Light Infantry was killed with his radio operator while fighting the militants. Guides who were instrumental in surrenders by militants on the LoC, were named as another security hazard by security agencies as they frequented army camps and ascertained the amount of fuel available there as well as the time when generators were switched off. This information was relayed across the border to militants supervising infiltration attempts. Lt Gen A S Shekon, commander of the Kashmir-based 15 Corps, was not available for comments on this issue as he was away for training.


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