Infiltration Rising, Army Moves More Troops To LoC

6 April 2009
The Indian Express


New Delhi: With infiltration on the rise and elections approaching, the Army is gearing up its counter-infiltration grid in Jammu and Kashmir to deal with a likely increase in violence levels. While the seasonal re-deployment of troops to forward areas that were snowed-in during winter has begun, the Army is also reorganising its counter-infiltration grid by moving in extra Rashtriya Rifles (RR) units near the Line of Control (LoC). There has been no increase of troops in the state but specialised RR units, that usually carry out anti-militant operations in the hinterland, have been moved closer to the LoC in wake of recent attempts of infiltration. As many as 700 troops have been relocated to make the CI grid more effective against terrorists who manage to cross the fence, sources say. This movement, which has taken place after the Kupwara encounter that left 17 militants dead, is in addition to some 3,000 troops who were relocated to the Line of Control from the Valley earlier this year after the 70 Infantry Brigade was shifted from Shopian. The move comes at a time when, officers say, the LoC is most vulnerable to infiltration - large sections of the fence that were under snow in the higher reaches have been damaged at several locations, making it easier for militants to cross over. “These are typically the months when we see a rise in infiltration as the snow starts melting. They try to sneak in before all posts along the LoC are fully manned after the winter months,” a senior officer said. While the CI grid is being realigned temporarily to meet immediate requirements, intelligence reports do not suggest a huge surge in infiltration in coming months. A slight increase is expected when the elections start but the Army is not expecting an abnormal rise in activity. “There are about 400 militants who are waiting to cross over. This may be a little over last year but there has not been much change on the ground situation yet,” an officer said. What has experts worried, however, is the new style of infiltration that involves large groups of 10-15 militants attempting to cross over. While this was the norm before the LoC fence came up, the past few years saw small groups of militants trying to sneak in. In only two cases late last year and the Kupwara and Gurez incidents this year have large militant groups crossed the LoC. “The trend of larger groups attempting to infiltrate started late last year. It is either a sign of desperation to push in as many people as possible or a new tactic to push in a large number of militants through so that at least some of them succeed,” an Army officer said.