Army Winds Up Keran Ops in Kashmir Leaving Gaps Between Its Claims & What’s On Ground

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Published: October 9, 2013

Updated: October 9, 2013

Source: Indian Express

Keran_sector

Manu Pubby

Claim: Several firearms have been recovered and eight militants have been killed in Shalbhatti encounter.

Fact: While there is no proof of the claimed kills on September 26, it is a fact that eight terrorists have been killed in the Keran sector in the past few days. These kills have, however, not taken place in the Shalbhatti area where militants were claimed to be holed up. Three were shot dead while crossing over in the Gujjardoor area Friday while four were shot dead in the Fateh Gali area Saturday and a cache of arms and supplies recovered.

These militants had been a part of the 30-40 who had tried to enter from Shalbhatti on September 23. However, all weapons recovered and bodies found in the past two weeks have not been from the area.

Claim: A gun battle went on in Shalbhatti for two weeks and troops were engaged in a stand-off with holed in militants.

Fact: There was no exchange of fire in the area for almost a week now. All militants either escaped or retreated back. There was no verifiable firing from the militants’ side for a week and Indian troops had not fired for the past few days. Simply put, after an initial gun battle in which four Indian jawans were injured and an unknown number of terrorists were hit, there was no major operation in the Shalbhatti area. The two operations in which kills occurred were in other parts of the Keran sector, 4-20 km away.

Former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen H S Panag has called the Keran incident the “big operation that never was”.

“10-15 terrorists with an equal number of porters infiltrated due to surveillance patrols lapse. Exaggerated report by unit to cover lapse. Panic reaction by the 286 Brigade (under which Keran Sector falls) converted to cordon to trap the terrorists. Terrorists slipped away, media went in a tizzy,” the officer has tweeted.

As things stand, the Army is in control of the few structures in the village on the Indian side but no bodies have been recovered. As Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh said, there was never any attempt to capture Indian territory. He termed it an infiltration, not an intrusion.

Claim: Twin attacks happened on September 26. While three militants attacked Samba, 30-40 infiltrators tried to enter from Keran sector.

Fact: No proof yet to indicate that the two incidents were coordinated. In fact, they were separated both by geography and time. The Samba attack took place on September 26, by three militants who crossed over the International Border in Harinagar the night before. The Keran bid took place days earlier, on the night of September 23.

Claim: The Army killed 10-12 terrorists in the initial gun battle.

Fact: No proof yet that any militant was killed in the initial gun battle in Keran. While a strong cordon was laid after four Indian soldiers were injured to ensure no one entered further inside, no body has been discovered even now. Initial claims by Lt Gen Singh that 10-12 bodies were spotted lying in the area were changed later to suggest the number was indicated via radio intercepts of agents and handlers in Pakistan. Fact is that two weeks after the encounter and extensive combing operations, not a single body has been recovered from the Shalbhatti area. Theory that bodies have been taken back by militants also not credible as the difficult terrain, high altitude and tight cordon by Indian troops would have made this next to impossible.

Claim: A logistics line was established by the militants who held territory.

Fact: While radio intercepts suggested a supply line could be established to help terrorists who were engaged in the gun battle, there has been no evidence that they got supplies from across the border. In fact, after the initial gun battle, the terrorists are believed to have escaped at the first opportunity, hence the absence of arms or bodies even after multiple combing operations.

Claim: Several firearms have been recovered and eight militants have been killed in Shalbhatti encounter.

Fact: While there is no proof of the claimed kills on September 26, it is a fact that eight terrorists have been killed in the Keran sector in the past few days. These kills have, however, not taken place in the Shalbhatti area where terrorists were claimed to be holed up. Three terrorists were shot dead while crossing over in the Gujjardoor area Friday while four were shot dead in the Fateh Gali area Saturday and a cache of arms and supplies recovered. These militants had been a part of the 30-40 who had tried to enter from Shalbhatti on September 23. However, all weapons recovered and bodies found in the past two weeks have not been from the area.

Claim: A gun battle went on in Shalbhatti for two weeks and troops were engaged in a stand-off with holed in militants.

Fact: There was no exchange of fire in the area for almost a week now. All militants either escaped or retreated back. There was no verifiable firing from the militants’ side for a week and Indian troops had not fired for the past few days. Simply put, after an initial gun battle in which four Indian jawans were injured and an unknown number of terrorists were hit, there was no major operation in the Shalbhatti area. The two operations in which kills occurred were in other parts of the Keran sector, 4-20 km away.

Former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen H S Panag has called the Keran incident the “big operation that never was”.

“10-15 terrorists with an equal number of porters infiltrated due to surveillance patrols lapse. Exaggerated report by unit to cover lapse. Panic reaction by the 286 Brigade (under which Keran Sector falls) converted to cordon to trap the terrorists. Terrorists slipped away, media went in a tizzy,” the officer has tweeted.

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