With intelligence reports suggesting the presence of around 250 terrorists on launch pads in PoK, the military along the Line of Control (LoC) has increased its bids to counter any nefarious designs on the other side of the border.
Maintaining a high vigil at the outpost in the Keran sector, the northernmost part of Kashmir along the Line of Control, troops maintain a bird’s eye vigil despite the ceasefire between the two countries since February of last year.
For the soldiers on this border, it is a battle that must be fought on two fronts: a hostile neighbor and a harsh winter that is approaching.
Although army claims that infiltration has decreased in recent years, officials, who spoke to a group of visiting reporters, said there were reports of the presence of approximately 250 terrorists on various launch pads waiting through the line of control to sneak past. .
“So we can’t let our guard down,” said one of the army officials.
Besides the infiltration of terrorists, the army is also worried about the flow of drugs from across the border. Recently, Jammu and Kashmir Police Director General Dilbag Singh said drug smuggling across the border is on the increase and Pakistan is using it to finance terrorism in Kashmir.
The army officer said “we are closely monitoring the smuggling of narcotics as well as the infiltration of terrorists and weapons and ammunition. The enemy has his means, but we are firm and always ready to defend our country”.
And with winter just around the corner, the battle is about to get tougher.
“It’s a tough fight. Life in these grounds is very tough,” a soldier guarding one of the posts here in Keran sector, Kupwara district, Jammu and Kashmir told PTI. .
These army posts – some at the highest elevation of around 12,000 feet – are the first line of defense against intruders in these infamous traditional infiltration routes. These infiltration pathways converge on the mighty Shamsabari range.
The range with its mighty peaks, rugged mountains, thick forests with dense vegetation and several streams, poses a difficult challenge to the forces, both of kind – nature as well as of man.
“Apart from the topography, the weather here is very rough, it’s extreme. We get too cold here when it snows. The snow can pile up to 20 feet and stay there for about three to four months,” said said an army officer. .
Soldiers and officers as well as positions cannot be identified for strategic reasons.
During the winter months, forces at these posts or their base camps have to stockpile essentials as the road is cut off due to heavy snowfall. During these months, helicopters/helicopters are the only mode of transport.
“The road, many bunkers and other infrastructure are not even visible when the snow is piling up. There are high poles that serve as beacons for us in such situations when we have to move,” the officer said.
Whatever the nature, the officer said, the duty to protect the homeland is the priority and must be performed in all cases.
“The service at the outpost can sometimes stretch over several hours, especially if there is an input (terrorist movement),” he said.
While infiltration has remained largely under control so far this year, aided by the February 2021 ceasefire agreement, the possibility that Pakistan will revert to its old ways of increased attempts to infiltrate more terrorists before winter.
The winter months of November to February or even March are difficult times for infiltration due to heavy snowfall. High elevation areas of the valley receive heavy snowfall which can accumulate up to around 30 feet in many areas.
“There is always this apprehension, this possibility, that before the snow sets in, Pakistan is trying to increase infiltration,” security establishment officials said, adding that it had been happening since. years and there was no guarantee it wouldn’t happen. breed, they added.
They said, however, that the counter-infiltration grid was strong and that security forces were vigilant to thwart such designs.
“We are alert to any such situation. The AIOS (Anti-Infiltration Obstacle System) is robust and we are watching closely, especially on known (infiltration) leads,” they said.
The reiteration of the ceasefire agreement by the two armies has helped the army on this side to control infiltrations, but the guard is not disappointed.
“Yes, the ceasefire helped. The Pakistani army usually tried to provide cover for the infiltrators by firing on our posts when there was no ceasefire. So, there it is. But, ceasefire or not, we have to be vigilant. We cannot take it for granted,” the official said.
They said a tiered deployment was in place to stop the infiltration – part is physical, part is electronic. “It’s a combination of man, machine and surveillance,” they said.
Explaining if further, they said that apart from the LoC fence, known as AIOS, there are integrated surveillance systems including ground sensors, night vision devices and CCTV cameras to support robust field deployment.
Of the 743 km line of contact in Jammu and Kashmir, about 350 km is in the Kashmir valley, of which 55 km is in the Keran sector alone.