The army’s counter-terrorism procedure in Poonch is reminiscent of the strike in Hilkaka 18 a long time back

The ongoing procedure from militants holed up superior in the Poonch ridges in Jammu is the the longest in the location because 2003. There is no clarity how quite a few militants the Military is battling and how very long they have been hiding in the dense forests on the buttresses of the Pir Panjal overlooking the districts of Poonch and Rajouri.

It has long been identified that cross-border infiltrators use the Poonch-Pir Panjal route to access southern Kashmir. But they are not known to remain in the location for prolonged, owing to its mixed Hindu-Muslim populace hostile to both Pakistani and Kashmiri militants.

For this cause, the probable existence of militants in the region for months has elevated pink flags in the stability establishment. It also evoked comparisons to a time when Poonch was a hotbed of militancy and a protection nightmare. It took a extensive operation in 2003 to remove the militants and a lot extended to conquer the regional population.

A foundation for Pakistan’s terrorists

The concentrate on of these operations was a spot known as Hilkaka. Dozens of Pakistani militants experienced infiltrated through the Line of Command (LoC) in Poonch and had lengthy-assortment infiltration in Hilkaka, a Bakerwal village in Surankote tehsil, about 10-12km inside of the LoC.

Pakistani terrorists, belonging to Lashkar e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al-Badr and some other teams, had turned the village into their possess fortress. They experienced converted hundreds of dhoke (sheds employed by Bakerwal for their animals) on the steep slopes into concrete and stone bolstered bunkers, designed more fortifications together with a hospital, and saved rations to feed 500 adult males for two months.

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Starting in 1999, Pakistanis practically ran a parallel administration in the space until eventually 2003, when the military determined to flush them out.

Crush the snakes

There had been quite a few conferences in the location ahead of the military carried out Operation Sarp Vinash among April and Could 2003. The eviction of Hilkaka was the greatest counter-insurgency operation in Jammu and Kashmir to day.

With however refreshing recollections of the 1999 Kargil War and the army recovering from Operation Parakram, the substantial mobilization following the assault on Parliament on December 13, 2001, it was feared that the Hilkaka terrorists might prevent the logistics of the army to attain the LoC in the function of an outbreak of hostility with Pakistan.

Preparations for a total assault commenced in January 2003. The operation took place in an space of ​​150 square km involving a few massive ridges, on the western buttresses of the Pir Panjal.

About 15,000 soldiers – the measurement of a division or a few brigades – were concerned in the operation which lasted about two weeks.

Mi-17 helicopters were utilised to transportation troops to Hilkaka, and Lancer attack helicopters were being employed to destroy large-altitude concrete bunkers.

Safety forces in Surankote in Poonch. (PTI)

In accordance to the Indian army, the overall range of militants killed was 62. Troops reportedly recovered AK-47 rifles, PIKA pistols, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, self-loading rifles, explosives and a massive range of radio and other communications gear.

The army shed two soldiers. During the procedure, the federal government of the former point out of J&K compensated a compensation package deal of 7.5 crore rupees to the Bakerwal shepherds who had been purchased to hold the area out.

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Unanswered inquiries

Subsequently, initiatives were being built to improve the presence of the civil administration in the region. The streets had been created to supply connectivity. The military has produced specific attempts to access the Gujjar-Bakerwal populace in the region. Lots of of the locals located operate with the army as porters.

The ongoing procedure at Bhatta Durian of Balakote tehsil of Poonch, which enters the eleventh working day on Oct 21, is substantially smaller than Sarp Vinash.

The amount of militants present in the region should not be better than eight, if not lower. But it is really the first prolonged standoff in the area given that Hilkaka’s continues to be were being rounded up.

Army personnel at the assembly spot in Mendhar, Poonch, Sunday. (PTI)

The likelihood that in 2021 a team of terrorists was entrenched in the identical area for in excess of two months, killed 9 employees associates of the stability forces, and carries on to evade the sighting, has lifted worries that cross-border endeavours are underway to revive militancy in the location.

Protection officials claimed that only after the location was cleared would they be in a position to realize how very long the militants experienced been digging, how they had supported on their own, how considerably, if any, local aid they had acquired and what they have been like. managed to evade detection.

The region is very well inside the LoC and is patrolled by Romeo Force, a division of the Rashtriya Rifles.

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