Wednesday, October 7, 2009

India plays down Chinese incursions

By Priyanka Bhardwaj 

NEW DELHI - Reports of incursions into Indian territory by China have been on the rise in recent weeks. 

The reports include the injury of two soldiers from the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force) in firing from across the border into the northeastern Indian state Arunachal Pradesh, portions of which China claims as its own. 

Other reports claim Chinese aircraft have transgressed into Indian air space, among other infringements along the disputed 3,500-kilometer Line of Actual Control, as the India-China border is referred to. 

In Ladakh, part of the northern state of Kashmir, Chinese intruders reportedly painted rocks red to mark their presence. 

There are also instances of Chinese issuing separate visas to Indian passport holders from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, a delicate matter given the long history of conflict with Pakistan over the state. 

India's diplomatic reaction, however, has been to play down the events. Federal Foreign Minister S M Krishna said, "This [India-China boundary in Ladakh] is one of the most peaceful boundaries. We have no dispute with China in this area. There is an in-built mechanism to deal with such issues." 

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorji Khandu said the additional deployment of troops is a routine drill to help soldiers acclimatize with the high altitude terrain and not an "eyeball-to-eyeball" confrontation. 

Dorji was responding to reports that India is fortifying its border positions with China by readying 30,000 troops in two divisions for quick deployment coupled with a beefing up of the Indian Air Force along the Sino-Indian border. 

At one level, the incidents could be seen as a continuation of past skirmishes and also an overreaction by a "hypersensitive"' media. 

On the other hand, these can also be indications of things to come even as the two emerging Asian giants fight for resources, energy and influence in the region, including the Indian Ocean corridors.                  

The fact remains that all is not well between the two countries, which went to war over disputed Himalayan border territory in 1962. As per some expert estimates, Chinese violations of Indian-territory have doubled from nearly 150 in 2007 to 300 in 2008. 

Global strategic positioning means that India and China are pitted in diverse spectrums. 

In the past couple of years, one main reason America has sought to cement India as its partner in Asia has been to balance the rise of China, both economically and militarily. 

Apart from the India-US civilian nuclear deal last year, America and India are emerging as partners in defense and sharing anti-terror expertise. 

Given the stiff competition in business as well, the air of suspicion that continues to persist between India and China will not go away in a hurry. 

New Delhi has thus not taken too kindly to Chinese attempts to "gatecrash"' plans for a Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, as India remains undecided about its participation due to security, pricing issues and pressure from America not to deal with Tehran. 

In March 2009, China attempted to block a US$2.9 billion loan to India from the Asian Development Bank, meant to fund a $60 million flood management program in Arunachal Pradesh.                  

Last year, Beijing tried to obstruct the US-India civilian nuclear deal at the meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. 

All along, China has vehemently opposed India's bid to join the United Nations Security Council, while remaining a staunch supporter of India's traditional rival, Pakistan, at international forums. 

Cultural, linguistic and other differences are believed to have hampered Indian and Chinese developing ties at a personal level. This is unlike Indians and Pakistanis, where similarities have led to emotional ties and created a constituency that wants peace. 

Thus, despite the top diplomatic channels maintaining a dignified tone and veil to the recent events, the Indian armed forces and political leadership are not prepared to take chances. 

The Indian parliamentary standing committee attached to the Foreign Ministry looking at Chinese incursions is also studying the situation. 

Some observers said that a worrying factor is that skirmishes have been along areas that have been relatively peaceful and not disputed by Beijing lately - this includes the Sikkim-Tibet border and Uttarakhand that also stand clarified via India-China exchange maps. 

Opposition political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Samajwadi Party have been voicing their fears. Rajnath Singh, president of the BJP, said, "India must take adequate precautions [given the 1962 war]." 

Meanwhile, India's army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, has also voiced his concern on the recent reported incursions, suggesting that the situation is more serious than is being projected. Top Indian commanders have been visiting the Indo-China border areas of Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to make first-hand assessments. 

The Indian army's northern commander, Lieutenant General P C Bharadwaj is visiting the Leh-based 14 Corps headquarters to verify the authenticity of the reports. 

Earlier this month, the air force opened a runway near the China border in the inhospitable terrain of Ladakh to fixed-wing aircraft, previously it was used only by helicopters. There are also plans to upgrade many runways in Arunachal. 

In July, India for the first time based its latest Russian Sukhoi-30 MKI Air Dominance fighters in Tezpur in the northeast, in response to China's build-up of military infrastructure in Tibet and south China

Militarily, India has been wary of the Chinese naval bases, commercial ports, radar and refueling stations around the southern coast of Asia, referred to as the "string of pearls" that could be tightened around India, should the need arise. 

Chinese investment has proliferated in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Pakistan. 

In 2006, China allegedly supported the Maoist violence in Nepal that resulted in the overthrow of the royalty. Given its own problems with leftist rebels, India is not happy about any role for Beijing in Kathmandu. 

There have been reports that the Research Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency, has found over 24 Nepal-China study centers along the Indo-Nepal border that are suspected to be "spying'' on India. 

In Sri Lanka, India has claimed that China took advantage of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam-led civil strife to gain a foothold in the island to set up a port at Hambontota on the island's southern coast. 

Yet, it is also true that both India and China do not want the situation to spiral out of control, so that relations - especially business, with bilateral trade expected to cross $60 billion per year - can function within an accepted decorum. 

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, who reports directly to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has maintained that there cannot be a "repeat" of 1962 as both countries mutually agree that borders issues and outstanding differences can be resolved through dialogue. 

Contrary to what seems to be the actual situation, Narayanan has said: "In terms of the number of incursions, there has been hardly any increase. Occasionally inroads are a little deeper than what might have been in the past. I don't think there is anything alarming about it.'' 

Narayanan has also warned that the "media hype" on China and India could provoke an "unwarranted incident or accident". 

Nirupama Rao, foreign secretary and former ambassador to China, said that given the developing nature of the relationship between India and China, regular communication over important bilateral issues and border meetings have worked well in the recent past. 

The India Air Force chief, P V Naik, has also stressed that there was no possibility of a repeat war. 

Clearly, there is a damage control mechanism at work, at least for now, and the simmering can be expected to continue. 

Priyanka Bhardwaj is a journalist based in New Delhi. She can be reached at

India prepares new assault on its 'biggest threat'

India's government is planning a major new assault on Maoist rebels, known as Naxalites, across the four states where their presence is strongest. The move comes as new evidence emerges the Maoists are stepping up their military and operational tactics – and winning new recruits across the country.
Some experts are skeptical about what the campaign, whose details are murky, can achieve.
Ajay Sahni, executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi, says India's security forces do not have the strength – in terms of "numbers, training, transportation, arms" – to gain control over such vast swaths of territory.
"Until there's been a steady, tremendous capacity-building, all deployments will be irrational; it will just be a nibbling away at the peripheries, and a lot of security forces will be killed," he says.
Security analysts say that ahead of the announced campaign, which may begin as soon as this month, paramilitary forces are being sent into the eastern states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, and Bihar, where the movement is most heavily concentrated. Though it is not known how many extra troops will be deployed, at least 20,000 were being sent to Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, where some 35,000 troops are already operating.
Naxalites, who claim to fight for India's poorest, powerless people, have a strong network – estimates of their cadre numbers vary from 10,000 to 20,000 – across many tribal and landless communities of eastern India.
The government recently said that the insurgency, which started in 1967 as a peasant uprising in the village of Naxalbari – hence the name – has now spread to 20 of India's 28 states. At least 700 people, including civilians and police, have been killed in the rebellion this year, up from 638 total last year. In September, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has described Naxalism as India's greatest security threat, said the police were failing to halt it.

Naxalites dig in

In previous attempts to tackle Naxalism, the police – the force that leads the fight against the rebels – have been outnumbered and hampered by their own outdated weapons. The Naxalites, meanwhile, are skilled in jungle warfare and increasingly well equipped with rocket launchers, automatic rifles, and explosives.
Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram said recently that Maoists had improved their operations, from making increasingly sophisticated bombs to "laying greater emphasis on attacking economic and development infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railways, power, and telecommunication networks."
A Maoist strategy report, recently leaked to the government, calls for attacks on Indian security forces and efforts to prevent multinational companies taking over mines in central and eastern India.
"This time, the fight will be more long-drawn and more bitter than the one against the British imperialist armies," the document says.
Some have suggested that the Army should be used in the fight against the rebels, though traditionally, state-level police have been considered better suited for the law-and-order problems that Maoists often pose. On Oct. 1, the Indian Air Force, which assists the state police with evacuation and intelligence-sharing, asked the government for permission to fire at Maoists if it came under attack. The government denied permission.

Nonviolent alternatives

Others point out that the poverty and alienation that lie at the root of the rebellion should be tackled first. In his column in Mint, a leading Indian newspaper, Mukul Kesavan, a professor at New Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia University, alluded to "the predicament of those likely to be collateral damage in this war … the rural poor of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh and every other state and district where insurgency feeds off the desperation of violently exploited Indians."
In a more peaceable attempt to deter people from joining the Maoists, the government has also launched a newspaper campaign. The first advertisement, in national newspapers, featured graphic photographs of people killed by Maoists, among them a child, and the words, "These are innocent people – victims of Naxal [Maoist] violence."
Mr. Sahni says the media campaign is "too obvious and clumsy to have any real effect. On the ground, it is by word of mouth and example that things spread, and the Maoists are more effective at communicating the [perceived] atrocities of the state."
Meanwhile, there are growing fears that the Naxalites, traditionally a rural-based organization, are stepping up their attempts to recruit in cities.
But it is unlikely the organization would organize any major attacks in an urban area until it had a sufficiently well-established base there, says Sahni. "There is only the danger," he says, "that if too much pressure was exerted on their stronghold, they would engineer some actions in the cities.

IAF will have to wait to ‘shoot back’ at Naxals

New Delhi, October 6
The Defence Ministry is planning to lay down a set of rules of engagement (ROE) for the Indian Air Force before it finalises a proposal to allow the latter to take an action in self-defence against the Naxals.

The decision to finally allow the IAF to protect itself in case its choppers were attacked will be taken “at the highest level”, said a senior official of the Ministry. The government is very clear that there is no role for the armed forces — the Army or the IAF — in the anti-Naxal operations. “That has been ruled out so far”, said the official.
The IAF is only carrying out chopper-borne reconnaissance, transportation and medical evacuations in the Naxal-hit areas. The IAF chief Air Chief Marshall PV Naik had told mediapersons recently that he had asked the government to allow “IAF to shoot back at Naxals if they try to attack their choppers.”
According to the sources, the Ministry is not going to give permission to arm the choppers with heavy weapons. Also, the discussions are on as to decide what will tantamount to “self defence”. The IAF wants specific rules of engagement as its choppers have been fired at by Maoists in the past. A sergeant was killed in November last year when Naxals fired at a Mi-8 chopper that was on election duty in Chattisgarh.
The Home Ministry, which is conducting the anti-Naxal operations using paramilitary forces, is also against the use of excessive force or air power for internal security duties on account of collateral damage and brutal power projection.
In the past, the IAF, in its J&K anti-terrorist operations, allowed carrying of INSAS rifles and pistols to defend themselves against the militants.

Sri Lanka and India conduct joint Naval exercises

The Sri Lanka Navy, the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard commenced joint Naval exercises yesterday off the coast of Colombo with the participation of four warships.
INS 'Shardul' of the Indian Navy and INCGS 'Varuna' of the Indian Coast Guard (with Indian cadets aboard) and SLNS 'Sayura', SLNS 'Samudura' and 'A 521' of the Sri Lanka Navy participated in the exercises, code named 'Cadex 2009'.
These naval training exercises are intended to provide Sri Lanka Navy Officer Cadets an opportunity to train on board Indian naval ships. In return, the Sri Lanka Navy will provide an opportunity for Indian Navy cadets to familiarise themselves with the tri-forces military training institutions
 and to visit places of historical and cultural interest in Sri Lanka, in order to strengthen the ties between the two countries.
“The joint military exercises reflect the mutual cooperation of the two friendly navies and the long standing bilateral relations of the two neighbouring nations,” said Navy spokesman Captain D.K.P Dassanayake.
A highlight of the training exercises was the landing of a ‘cheetak’ light helicopter from INS Shardul on SLN Sayura -- which is capable of handling a helicopter of this kind as it (the Sayura) had been bought from the Indian Navy.
Captain Dassanayake said that Vice Admiral Tisara Samarasinghe, the commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, had extended an invitation to the Indian Navy to send group of ships to engage in training in Sri Lankan waters.
A contingent of 141 Indian cadet officers and 95 Sri Lankan cadet officers are participating in the training exercises which will continue for three days.

Pratibha Patil to visit LoC

 Jammu, Oct 6 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil will visit forward positions of the Indian Army along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir Friday, an official said Tuesday.
‘She is visiting (LoC) to boost the morale of the soldiers guarding the most challenging terrain,’ an army official told IANS.

Patil would visit the forward posts in Rajouri district, which of late has seen attempts by terrorists in Pakistan to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir.

The 744-km-long LoC, which divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan, passes through high mountains, ravines and dense forests. Patil would be the second president to visit the LoC after A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

US, Indian troops plan live-fire exercises

 WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) - U.S. and Indian troops will this month stage their biggest joint maneuvers, including live fire exercises, as the two nuclear powers build up military ties, a senior U.S. officer said on Tuesday.
Lieutenant General Benjamin Mixon, commander of U.S. Army forces in the Pacific, said 200 U.S. soldiers and 17 Stryker infantry combat vehicles were taking part in the Yudh Abhyas exercises at Babina, south of New Delhi, from Oct. 12 to 29.
It is the largest contingent sent by the United States to the annual joint exercises since they began in 2004.
India had a close military relationship with Moscow until the collapse of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s but is now deepening ties with Washington, which is also trying to balance long-standing ties with neighboring Pakistan.
"As we look at the Pacific in this century, the important players that we are going to see ... are certainly India, Indonesia and China," Mixon said.
The exercise will integrate elements of the two armies for live fire tests involving the eight-wheel armored Strykers and an equivalent number of Indian vehicles. In past years the two armies engaged only in "table-top" exercises.
It will be the largest deployment of Strykers outside Iraq or Afghanistan. Indian military officials have expressed interest in the vehicle, which has machine guns, grenade launchers and cannons and can travel at over 60 mph (100 kph).
Mixon said it was not the intent of the exercise to promote Stryker sales to India, but added: "With the success that we have had with the Stryker, I wouldn't be surprised if the Indians are interested."
Indian officials have indicated preliminary interest in the vehicle, built by General Dynamics Corp (GD.N), a source familiar with the Stryker program said.
Mixon said the exercise was planned long before militant attacks in Mumbai last November, but the incident underscored the importance of U.S. efforts to work with countries in the region on issues like counterinsurgency.

Beware India of the Chinese Dragon

Suvrokamal Dutta

China's demand for the removal of two Indian Army bunkers from its outpost at Batang La in Sikkim near the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction recently can be seen from two angles. First as a case of highhandedness of a few Chinese border officials who entered Indian Territory inadvertently and came face to face with these Indian bunkers. Oblivious of where their actual position on the ground is, these officials then raised objections about the bunkers. This scenario seems probable because, according to the Indian Army, these bunkers were constructed two years ago and there were no protests from the Chinese side till now. But then India has to be cautious as it comes after several violations of its border in Arunachal Pradesh by the Chinese army in the past.

The Indian army has moved several thousand troops to the Sino-India border recently following reports of Chinese intrusions in Sikkim-Bhutan area. The shifting of army formations north of Nathu-La comes in the wake of reports that Chinese troops are coming close to the Siliguri corridor, which is also called the chicken neck connecting the North East of India with the rest of the country. It is about 33 sqkms wide. The army authorities said Chinese forces had been coming close to the Dolam Plateau for more than two decades, as the boundary in the area is still to be precisely defined.

On May 2007 on Chinese Intrusion into Arunachal Pradesh the Home Minister of Government of India had to say this. “The reports (of intrusion) are not true,” The minister was reacting to media reports quoting a lawmaker from Arunachal Pradesh who claimed that the Chinese army had moved 20 km inside the state that borders China’s Tibet region. However the BJP M.P from Arunachal Pradesh had to say this “There has been a Chinese incursion in our country particularly in Arunachal Pradesh. I have written to the government of India and raised the issue in parliament. The government is not accepting the incursion openly. But defense personnel acknowledge that this is happening and the Chinese are occupying our land,” This could be true even as the Chinese have in the past violated the Arunachal Borders on many occasion 

Matters of such violations have to be taken seriously more so after the Chinese ambassador to India Sun Yuxi said in November 2006: “The whole of what you call the state of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory… We are claiming the whole of that.” India then strongly reacted to the Chinese claims with the external affairs ministry saying: “Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India”.

Matter in relation to Arunachal should be seen in the context of what happened recently in the Kashmir –Himachal border sector when the Chinese army entered almost 3 to 6 Kms inside the Indian Territory and wrote China with red paint in the rocks of the mountainous area of the border areas .The Indian army has also reported several violations by the Chinese army in the Uttarakhand region in the recent past. Unofficial reports claim in the last three months or so the Chinese army has violated the Indian borders almost 300 times.

Besides border violations China has tried to use every international platform to present the disputed status of Arunachal Pradesh . The recent happenings in the board meeting of the Asian Development Bank for a developmental loan for Arunachal Pradesh demonstrates this further After the first defeat and total isolation of China in the board meeting China used her diplomatic and strategic skills to get Japan and other East Asian countries on board and got the Arunachal package defeated which was a gruesome failure of Indian Diplomacy .

Looking into the history of the Border dispute the McMohan Line, an imaginary border now known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), separates the India-China border along Arunachal Pradesh. China has never recognized the 1914 McMahon Line and claims 90,000 sq km — nearly all of Arunachal Pradesh. India also accuses China of occupying 25,000 sq km in Kashmir.

After 1962, tensions flared again in 1986 with Indian and Chinese forces clashing in Sumdorong Chu valley of Arunachal. Chinese troops reportedly built a helipad in the valley leading to fresh skirmishes along the borders.

The two countries signed the 1993 Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement (BPTA). The agreement renamed the border the Line of Actual Control (LAC), implying a military held line that could be changed by military means. Indian forces have been ordered to match the growing border management by Chinese troops by building 12 strategic border roads. The Indian government has budgeted the equivalent of $357 million for 27 roads along the LAC.

Looking into the historical factors the whole of Arunachal border problem and the Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir started after the Chinese Annexation of Tibet. Let us try to analysis certain historical evidences based on the Conversations of Pandit Nehru and the Chinese President of that time Zhou Enlai. Fifty years ago Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai paid three state visits to India in less than two months. It was the zenith of the brotherhood relationship. Premier Zhou was in India from November 28 to December 10, 1956, December 30 to January 3 and again from January 24 to 26, 1957. After the signing of the Panchsheel agreement in April 1954 Chinese Intrusion of Indian borders started with the first reported intrusion-taking place in Barahoti in July 1954.

Zhou who took the initiative to bring up the situation in Tibet. He gave a long briefing to the Indian PM on the historical status of the Land of Snows, while Nehru kept quiet about the intrusions. Zhou made some stray remarks on Tibet and the border, which are worth noting: "That Tibet is part of China is a fact, but it was never an administrative province of China but kept an autonomous character." Nehru replied: "My impression was that for all practical purposes Tibet has all along been autonomous”. Zhou spoke again about autonomy: "When we started negotiations for peaceful liberation of Tibet [in 1951 in Beijing], we from the first recognized the autonomous character of the region." Then he interestingly added: "When I said that India knew more about Tibet, I meant about the past history. For example, I knew nothing about McMahon Line until recently when we came to study the border problem after [the] liberation of China." Zhou had also then added
which seems quite surprising now as the present Chinese leadership refuses to accept the McMohan line (Line of Actual Control). The then Premier of China had added “Although this Line was never recognized by us, still apparently there was a secret pact between Britain and Tibet and it was announced at the time of the Simla Conference. And now that it is an accomplished fact, we should accept it. But we have not consulted Tibet so far." Where did the question of consulting Tibet arise as China had forcefully occupied Tibet in 1959?

The present Political leadership of India specially the ones in Central government should take all this historical factors into account while arguing forcefully with China on the border problems with China. Strategically and Economically Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan is very important for India and India cannot afford to loose an inch of land in the Arunachal Area and it cannot afford to ignore the happenings in the Sikkim-Bhutan or in the Kashmir-Himachal areas . Its time for the Indian government to follow a bold and firm policy towards China on the border issue.

India should not only claim back forcefully the areas of Aksai Chin in Jammu And Kashmir which China had occupied it in 1962 but should also claim back almost 25000 sq kms of territory on the other side of the Karakoram watershed in the Yarkhand areas on the other side of K2 peaks which originally belonged to the Princely state of Jammu and Kashmir but was quietly taken over by China in 1947-48.

It should also ask China to ceded the 5000 Sq Kms of land in the Karakoram area which Pakistan had given to China after 1965 .At the same time Government of India should make it clear once for all that China should stop bargaining on its claim over Arunachal Pradesh. For this if required India should go back on its assurance of accepting Tibet as an autonomous part of China and declare the independent status of Tibet. If the present Chinese leadership can ignore the acceptance of Zhou Enlai on the Mac Mohan line in 1957. So can the present leadership of India do the same on the question of Tibet? At the same time India should raise up the question of ethnic cleansing in Tibet and Xinjiang at every international forum and also derecognize Xinjiang as a part of China and make it disputed . After all in Diplomacy there is also a notion of tit for tat as well as the carrot and stick policy. 

(The writer is renowned T.V personality, Foreign Affairs and a Political Critic) 

Give alimony, court orders Army doctor

Pitthoragarh, October 6 
Sabra Yusufjai, alias Sabra bibi
Sabra Yusufjai, alias Sabra bibi, a young girl from Afghanistan who came to India seeking justice against her desertion by an Indian Army doctor, ultimately got justice when a Delhi court ordered that the Army doctor is liable to compensate her. On the petition filed by Sabra, the metropolitan court of Sunaina Sharma at Karkardooma, Delhi, ordered on September 11 that the marriage of the doctor with Sabra had been proved. 

Army capable of countering Chinese military threat: Kapoor

New Delhi, Oct 6 (PTI) Rubbishing the chances of a repeat of the 1962 Sino-Indian war which China won, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor today said the Army was "capable of defending" Indian territory and ward off any aggression.

"The Indian Army is capable of looking after and ensuring the defence of the country. It would take care of any aggression against Indian territory," General Kapoor said.

"The charter of the Army is to defend Indian territory at all costs. This talk of repeat of 1962 is totally incorrect and uncalled for," he said.

Stating that "offensive action" could not be part of any credible defensive posture, the Army chief added that his force was "sincere to ensure the defence of our country to the last of our blood."

The Army, Kapoor said, had the requisite capability to defend the Indian territory even if it means deployment of force multipliers.


Go to jail or join jihad against India: ISI tells surrendered Taliban

NEW DELHI: In a new shift in tactics, Pakistan is planning to push as many as 60 "surrendered" Taliban into Jammu and Kashmir to become part of  the "jihad" against India. The ISI is said to have offered the extremists the option of either going to jail or crossing the Line of Control. 

The "jail or jihad" option offered to the Taliban seems a useful diversion for ISI. The Pakistan military establishment has had to fight the Taliban, once its close allies in Afghanistan, but is looking to turn the situation to its advantage. 

Apprehensions in Indian security circles that the crackdown by the Pakistan army on Taliban — seen as a last resort after the jihadis turned their guns on the Pakistani state — could mean trouble in Kashmir are being proved correct. Not only have infiltration attempts by regular jihadi outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba gone up, the presence of Taliban poses a new threat. 

Highly placed sources said BSF and the Army had been alerted about the developments after intelligence intercepted talk about infiltration bids in the next 15 to 20 days. 

"Although the Taliban is yet to successfully infiltrate into India, the coming days will pose a challenge as their attempts to sneak in are expected before the onset of winter," said a senior official. The infiltration is closely controlled and monitored by the ISI and Pakistan army which is often involved in the crossings. 

The issue cropped up as a major security concern during the two-day visit to Srinagar by a high-powered central team led by cabinet secretary K M Chandrashekhar and comprising home secretary G K Pillai, defence secretary Pradeep Kumar and other senior officials. 

Top security and intelligence officials deliberated over the move by state actors in Pakistan to utilize the Taliban for their objectives in Kashmir. Taking note of the assessment, officials are learnt to have unequivocally noted during the reviews in Srinagar that there was no change in Pakistan's support to terror groups post 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. 

The Taliban, who recently fought against Pakistan army in Swat Valley and other areas along the Pak-Afghan border, were well trained and battle-hardened. They could put their experience of fighting US troops to use in Kashmir. 

Apart from the group of 60, there are nearly 250 to 300 jihadis — armed with sophisticated weapons, Thuraya satellite phones and Indian mobile SIM cards — poised at launch pads along LoC. This feeds into the view that violence could escalate in J&K in the winter months. 

The meeting in Srinagar, attended by senior Army and paramilitary personnel, also took note of repeated use of Pakistani Air Force helicopters to evacuate injured infiltrators along the LoC and as many as 42 terror camps in PoK and Pakistan. 

"Such incidents (like use of choppers) clearly show the involvement of Pakistani authorities in facilitating infiltration. Though our forces are fully alert to thwart Pakistani designs, the next 15-20 days are quite crucial as this is the period when they will do everything to infiltrate as many terrorists as possible," said a senior official. That is when winter will begin to set in.

Inside a terrorist hideout

While the army continued its search for the terrorists in hills of Pampore, TIMES NOW today accessed the hideout in which the terrorists sought refuge during the encounter. 

The 10 terrorists had taken refuge in a small room in the jungles of Pampore in South Kashmir. The hideout was found to be well stocked with food stuff including vegetables, rice and other material, water and blankets, enough to survive for a long time. Sources also said that the terrorists were living here for a some time now, but were identified only after the gun battle broke out. 

The army had launched a massive search operation after getting a tip-off that 10 infiltrarors are hiding in the hills near Pampore town in South Kashmir's Pulwama district. 

A brief encounter also took place between the militants and the security personnel in which one Army jawan was injured, after which the the militants managed to give the security forces the slip. Since then the Army has been on the look-out. 

Timeline of gun battle with militants 

3:00 am: Army reaches Pampore forest after tip off of militant hideout 

6:00 am: Army cordens off area and lays seige 

6:30 am: First exchange of fire between Army and terrorists 

7 am: Militants manage to escape into Pampore forest during encounter 

Army launches massive combing operation 

3:00 pm: Another round of firing, army jawan injured 

4 :00pm: Lull in firing between terrorists & army 

Hunt for the 10 terrorists continues