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Friday, 27 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 27 Sep 2013
Double strikes expose chinks in security
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
In one stroke on Thursday, Pakistan-based militants have exposed a chink in the Indian defence and rolled back the fight against militancy by almost a decade -- the time when the border fence was yet to come up in totality and Army camps were attacked often.

Since the first week of September, Indian security agencies had been warning that militants were plotting to spread the arc of terror to the Jammu division that has remained mostly peaceful in the past decade or so.

This led to a manhunt for militants, but now, it is generally accepted within the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Indian Army that the militants, who carried out the twin attacks, had sneaked into India last night.

The attacks this morning exposed certain flaws and has raised questions and eyebrows in Delhi. Probably, a fresh standard operating procedure needs to be devised.

First, the militants are believed to have crossed over from Pakistan despite the fence in Jammu and Kashmir. It has Israeli sensors and latest equipment like night-vision thermal imagers.

Secondly, the two attacks took place some 25 km from each other and 35 minutes apart. The ease with which the militants travelled unhindered between the two locations has raised eyebrows especially after they had exposed their location in the first attack.

The terrorists first barged into the Hiranagar police station of Kathua district, around 60 km south of Jammu city. This was around 6.45 am. The gunmen fired at the police station indiscriminately, killing five policemen.

Then, they used the national highway to travel on truck for some 25 km and reach Samba. In these 35 minutes of travel on the highway, they faced no resistance as an alert had not been sounded out after the Hiranagar incident, sources said.

On reaching Samba, they found the first gate of the Army battalion closed. The sentry on duty at the second gate was shot dead.

Officials in Delhi, who have been tracing the steps of the militants, have found that the area just north of the Ravi or the upper portion of the Shakargarh bulge was “always vulnerable”.

The tall elephant grass along the various small rivulets provides hiding pockets to aid the militants’ entry. “This had not been pruned despite a standing instruction of 2003 to cut down the grass especially during monsoon,” sources who are privy to the information said.

Operational commanders had long calculated that the ISI and Pakistan army wants to trigger violence in Jammu division. Intelligence reports indicate that militants wanted to increase the geographical spread of terrorism.

The last major strike at an Army camp in the Jammu region was in July 2003 in which Pakistani terrorists shot dead Brigadier VK Govil and seven soldiers near Akhnoor.

And one of the worst hits was on May 2002 when an Army camp at Kaluchak -- just 10 km short of Jammu -- was attacked. As many as 32 persons, most of them family members of Army personnel, were killed and over 60 wounded.

Today, Defence Minister AK Antony condemned the attack by terrorists on Indian security posts in Jammu.

Antony conveyed his condolences to the family members of the martyred officers and jawans and said the Indian security establishment would leave no stone unturned in dealing with the terrorists with a firm hand.

Fatal flaws

* The militants are believed to have crossed over from Pakistan despite Israeli sensors and latest equipment such as night-vision thermal imagers installed along the fencing

* The attacks took place 25 km from each other and 35 minutes apart. The ease with which the militants travelled unhindered between the two locations raises concerns especially after they had exposed their location in the first attack
12 militants killed in major infiltration bid along LoC
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, September 26
The Army foiled one of the biggest infiltration bids in the Valley by gunning down at least 12 heavily armed militants in an ongoing operation that began in Kupwara district on Tuesday.

The Army said the infiltration attempt was made in the Keran sector of Kupwara, 130 km from Srinagar, where heavy firefight was still on.

“On September 24 night, a desperate and active attempt was made by a large number of terrorists to infiltrate at multiple points along the Line of Control (LoC). Our integrated intelligence network had given us advance inputs about the infiltration attempt by a group of militants from JeM (Jaishe-e-Mohammad), LeT (Lashkar-e-Toiba), Al-Bader and HM (Hizbul Mujahideen). A heavy firefight is on. Troops have reported seeing at least 12 bodies of terrorists,” said Lt Gen Gurmit Singh, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 15 Corps, in Srinagar.

“We are in no hurry to retrieve the bodies of the terrorists killed,” he added.

The 15 Corps Commander said the troops had cordoned off the area of operation and sealed all escape routes.

“The situation is under our control,” he said, adding that the militants had tried to evade thermal sensors by camouflaging themselves using grass and bushes. “The alert troops detected them and foiled the major bid (to infiltrate),” he said, adding that there was no casualty on the Army side.

The sources said a group of more than 30 militants tried to infiltrate through three points along the LoC in the Keran sector.

“The militants who had divided themselves in various groups tried to infiltrate through Lashdat, Muthal top and Shalbatu along the LoC on Tuesday,” a source said.

Firefight on

* Sources say a group of more than 30 militants belonging to JeM, LeT, Al-Bader and HM tried to infiltrate through three points along the LoC in the Keran sector

* The Army used helicopters, UAVs to locate the hiding militants in the dense forests

* The troops have sighted at least 12 bodies of terrorists; heavy firefight is on
Samba’s date with terror
Amir Karim Tantray/TNS

Samba, September 26
It was terror all around the encounter site in Samba that came under a fidayeen attack by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists who entered an Army camp after killing six persons, including four policemen, at Hiranagar in Kathua district.

Twelve persons, including a Lieutenant Colonel and three terrorist, were killed when a police station and an Army camp in Hiranagar and Samba, respectively, were attacked by terrorists on Thursday.
Terror was visible on the faces of people in the Mehsar area of Samba, where hundreds of local people gathered near the Army camp that came under attack.

Heavy deployment of security forces, including Army, CRPF and J&K Police personnel, was made around the encounter site. It was the Army that took charge against the terrorists who were eliminated in a day-long battle inside the 16 Cavalry battalion Army camp in Samba.

Though a sense of uncertainty prevailed outside the camp, Army men moved with a specific plan to neutralise all terrorists inside the camp. A Brigadier-level officer monitored the whole operation.

This Army camp of 165 Cavalry Battalion, known as ‘Carnatic Warriors’ is situated along the Jammu-Pathankote national highway, around 42 km from Jammu. The camp is surrounded by a dense forest and a barbed fencing marks its boundary. It has two gates. The terrorists entered from the Shilavanti gate, smaller of the two gates. The camp is spread in a huge area and houses a school, officers’ quarters, mess and buildings where Army men stay.

Senior Army officials and Jammu zone IGP Rajesh Kumar came out of the camp around 4.30 pm. When the IGP announced that all terrorists had been killed, people started raising slogans in favour of the Army and against Pakistan for supporting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.

Things were different before 4.30 pm. “It was around 7.10 am while I was leaving to see off my child to the school that three terrorists, dressed in Army uniform, entered the camp through the Shilavanti gate and opened fire on the sepoy. It was followed by sound of gunshots and grenades,” said Ravi Singh, 49, whose house is situated just opposite the Shilavanti gate.

For the first few hours, there was a heavy exchange of fire from both sides. Things started to change in the afternoon when information came that two terrorists had been killed. Intermittent firing, however, kept people on their toes.

After 2 pm, the Army launched its final assault and fired UBGL grenades on the building where terrorists had been hiding. After 10-15 minutes, there were several blasts inside the camp. Heavy firing re-started around 3.15 pm, bringing back tension on the faces of people around there.

Audacious attack

* Three terrorists entered an Army camp in the Mehsar area of Samba around 7.10 am and opened fire on the sepoy on duty

* For the first few hours, there was a heavy exchange of fire from both sides

* Things started to change in the afternoon when information came that two terrorists had been killed

* The terrorists were later eliminated by the Army and the entire area was sanitised
Twin terror strikes in Jammu; 10 killed
Militants target police station in Kathua, Army camp in Samba
  Lt Col among dead; Colonel injured All 3 terrorists gunned down
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS
Dressed in Army fatigues, a group of three heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists killed at least 10 persons, including a Lieutenant Colonel, in twin terror attacks on the Hiranagar police station in Kathua district and an Army camp in neighbouring Samba district barely 72 hours ahead of a meeting between Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan.

Commandos of the Army’s 9 Para Unit, assisted by paramilitary and police forces, eliminated all three terrorists who stormed the camp of the 16 Cavalry in the garrison town of Samba after a fierce gunbattle. Hiranagar is some 50 km from Jammu city while Samba is about 38 km away.

“All three terrorists have been gunned down and the operation is now over,” Jammu Zone IGP Rajesh Kumar said. He said the terrorists, all in Army combat fatigues, carried automatic weapons and grenades. The Army and other forces have launched a combing operation to sanitise the Jammu-Pathankot highway and the border districts of Kathua and Samba, he said.

The bodies of the terrorists, aged between 16 and 19, are in the Army’s custody. A lesser known terror outfit, Shohada Brigade — believed to be Lashkar-e-Toiba's proxy name — has claimed responsibility for the attack.

4.30 am
3 terrorists, believed to have entered India from Chhap Nullah, head towards Haria Chak village in Kathua.
6 am: Board auto-rickshaw and tell driver to take them to an Army or CRPF camp on the highway

6.45 am
Terrorists reach Hiranagar police station, open fire and hurl grenade killing a shopkeeper and 4 cops.
7 am: Trio hijack a truck and tell the driver and conductor to take them to Samba

8 am
Truck approaches Samba; driver thrown out
8.30 am: Terrorists strike at Army camp of 16 Cavalry, an Armoured regiment, and enter Officer’s Mess from where they wage a day long gun-battle

10.39 AM
Three Armymen, including a Lt Colonel, martyred in the attack. The Commanding Officer is seriously injured. He is later shifted to Chandimandir
Military Hospital

12.40 pM
Lesser-known militant outfit 'Shohada Brigade' claims responsibility for the attacks
4.28 pm: All three terrorists at Samba camp eliminated; sanitisation of area begins

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah rushed to the Hiranagar police station and Samba to take stock of the situation

Officials said six persons, including four policemen, were killed in the 'fidayeen' strike on the police station in Hiranagar (Kathua) barely 7km from the border, in the worst terror attack on a security establishment in the Jammu region in 10 years.

Four Army personnel, including Lt Col Bikramjeet Singh, the second-in-command of the unit stationed at the camp, died in the Samba strike.

Two of the dead soldiers have been identified as Sepoy Kiran Kumar Reddy and Sepoy Srinivasan, defence spokesperson SN Acharya said.

The commanding officer of the unit, Colonel K Uthaiya, and two soldiers —— Sepoy MS Rohi and Havildar Inderjeet Singh — were injured in the attack and airlifted to the Chandimandir Military Hospital for specialised treatment. One of the soldiers later died.

Terrorists first attacked the Hiranagar police station around 6.45 am and then entered the Army camp in the adjoining Samba district where an encounter raged during the day.

The militants were holed up inside the officers’ mess for several hours and fired from automatic weapons and lobbed grenades from inside, sources said. The Army moved in helicopters to locate the terrorists. It also used tanks to move commandos close to the mess to carry out a counter-attack, sources added.

The 16 Cavalry of Samba Brigade belongs to the 9 Corps, which is headquartered in Himachal Pradesh and falls under the Army's Western Command. The Jammu zone IGP said the three terrorists reached the Pathankot-Jammu national highway at the crack of dawn and boarded an auto-rickshaw to reach Hiranagar police station. There they opened indiscriminate fire killing four police personnel. They also opened indiscriminate fire on a temple.

Those killed in the Hiranagar attack have been identified as ASI Rattan Singh, Constable Shiv Kumar, Selection Grade Constable Pardeep Singh, Special Police Officer Mukesh Kumar, Suresh Kumar (shopkeeper) of Sanyal village and Feroz Ahmed, the co-driver of the truck who belonged to Kashmir. The injured are ASI Gangu Ram, Constable Rattan Chand, auto-driver Roshan Lal and SPO Sohan Singh.

The terrorists then returned to the national highway and killed the co-driver of a truck before hijacking the vehicle at gunpoint and telling its driver to drive towards Samba, he said. The Hiranagar police station and the Samba camp are nearly 12 km apart.

“It appears the militants boarded a second vehicle after abandoning the hijacked truck to reach the Army camp,” said the IGP.

Auto-rickshaw driver Roshan Lal told reporters a group of three ultras intercepted him near the cremation ground at Haria Chak, a border village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district, around 6 am as he was ferrying vegetables.

“They were dressed in Army combat fatigues. They asked me to take them to the highway, which aroused my suspicion. I first took them to Sanji Morh hoping the police checkposts en route would stop us, but the checkposts were not manned. Then I brought them to Chadwal on the highway,” he said.

“They asked me to stop the auto-rickshaw near a railway bridge on the highway. They alighted and discussed something and then asked me to take them to some Army or CRPF camp on the highway,” he said.

Roshan Lal said the CRPF camp in Hiranagar was not to their “liking”. When they reached Hiranagar police station, they first killed a shopkeeper and then shot me in the leg before entering the police station, he said.

Jammu on  terror radar

March 30, 2002: Militants strike at the ancient Raghunath Temple in the heart of Jammu killing 11 devotees

May 14: Terrorists attack Army camp in Kaluchak (Samba district), kill 31 persons, including three Armymen, 18 of their family members and 10 civilians

Nov 24: Militants again target Raghunath Temple; 14 die

Jan 3, 2004: Terrorists attack Jammu railway station; kill six

May 11, 2008: Major terror strike at Kaily Mandi in Samba; six killed, including a politician, his wife, two soldiers and a photo journalist

Aug 27: Three ‘fidayeens’ kill 11 persons, including three Armymen and five civilians, in Chinore area near Bantalab in Jammu city
Terrorists possibly entered via Chhap Nullah near border
Tribune News Service

Jammu, September 26
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today said the three terrorists, who carried out attacks in the Jammu region, had come from across the border through the Hiranagar sector. "As per preliminary information, the terrorists came from across the border," the minister said in New Delhi.

According to Intelligence sources, the terrorists probably infiltrated into India from Chhap Nullah near Salalpur village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district early this morning and launched the audacious attacks, first on a police station and then on an Army camp. They could have taken advantage of the fence having been swept away in the recent flashfloods due to torrential rains, sources said.

The Tribune, in a story on September 20, had reported that specialised training was being imparted to 50 hardcore terrorists in a walled compound at Kacharban in Bagh district of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) opposite Saujiyan sub-sector in Poonch district.

Indian intelligence agencies said the training camp, located in the middle of a forest in Kacharban, had been declared out of bounds for PoK civilians, including shepherds who frequented the area for green pastures. Though opposite the Poonch sector, Pakistan conducts advanced training for militants at Bagh, Halanshumali, Padhar, Rawalakote, Kotli, Halan, Kaliar, Gulpur, Aliabad and Forwad Kahuta. The highly-fortified camp in Kacharban has become “very active” since August 18, intelligence sources said.

Jammu Zone IGP Rajesh Kumar also said that the possibility of terrorists having entered from across the border could not be ruled out.On September 3, Lieutenant General Philip Campose, GOC-in-C of the Western Command, had visited the Tiger Division in the backdrop of frequent skirmishes between the armies of Pakistan and Indian along the Line of Control (LoC).
PM says peace talks to go on

Washington DC, September26
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh branded Thursday's attack by militants on a police station and Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir as "barbaric" but - without mentioning Pakistan - said it would not derail efforts to pursue peace through dialogue.

"This is one more in a series of provocations and barbaric actions by the enemies of peace," Singh said in a statement. "Such attacks will not deter us and will not succeed in derailing our efforts to find a resolution to all problems through a process of dialogue."

The attack triggered calls in New Delhi for talks between the rival nations' leaders at the weekend to be called.

Just a day before the attack, Manmohan Singh said he would meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly for highly anticipated talks. They are expected to discuss rising violence in the Kashmir region.

It was a quiet birthday without any celebration for Manmohan Singh on Thursday in the wake of twin terror attacks in the Jammu region. Singh turned 81 today. — Agencies
Attacks shatter Chandigarh family
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, September 26
The terror attack on an Army unit in Jammu has shattered a family in Chandigarh, which lost its only son, Lt Col Bikramjeet Singh. The 37-year-old officer was the second-in-command of 16 Cavalry that came under militant attack today.

Bikramjeet is survived by wife Navneet, eight-year-old daughter Ramneet (both staying with him in Samba) and his parents, Maj Paramjit Singh and mother Luvpreet. They had last met their son about two months ago when Bikramjeet came to Chandigarh.

His mortal remains were flown to the Chandimandir military station this evening and the cremation, with full military honours, is scheduled to be held in Chandigarh tomorrow.

As relatives and well-wishers poured in to offer their condolences to the bereaved family, the local police cordoned off the Sector 18 residence of the family, allowing entry to only relatives and Army officers.

A large number of Army officers, friends and representatives of the local administration visited the family.

Navneet’s parents, who reside in Mohali, also reached the departed officer’s residence on coming to know about the tragedy. The Army moved the family to Chandimandir, where the officer’s mortal remains would be kept overnight. Brig RS Mann from Western Command Headquarters had been detailed to accompany the family and ensure all logistical support.

Major Paramjit had retired from his last posting at Ambala and the family is said to have moved to Chandigarh about 30 years ago, according to family friends.

Bikramjeet was commissioned into the Army about 14 years ago.
J&K attacks: They shot Lieutenant Colonel twice in the stomach at point-blank range
The terrorists who attacked a police station and an Army cantonment 20 km apart, killing 10 people in Jammu and Kashmir this morning, are suspected to have crossed over into India only last night or this morning. (Read)

Despite that, and in what points to a serious security lapse, they managed to make their way from Jandi village on the border with Pakistan to Hiranagar in Kathua district of Jammu, where they attacked a police station and killed cops, before hijacking a truck and driving to the Samba district to attack an armoured corp unit. All in a span of about two hours.

Intelligence sources have said that units in the Jammu area had been warned that fidayeen or suicide attackers could launch a strike and yet the three heavily-armed terrorists seem to have entered the Army cantonment in Samba with ease.

The 16 Cavalry armoured regiment has three gates. The terrorists shot the sentry at one of the gates and walked in the officer's mess shouting jihadi slogans. They shot the regiment's second-in-command, Lieutenant Colonel BJ Singh, twice in the stomach at point blank range. Colonel Singh was staying at the mess with his family.

The unit's Commanding Officer has been shot twice - in the chest and shoulder - and is in critical condition.

Quick reaction teams from 2 Sikh and 14 Assam units were rushed to Samba.The terrorists were killed after a four-hour gun battle at the Army camp.

Early this morning, the terrorists first hijacked an auto or tempo used to ferry vegetables from Jandi to travel to the Hiranagar police station. They killed the sentry at the gate, walked in and shot dead three cops. (Timeline of attacks)

The attackers then hijacked a truck, killed the cleaner and forced the driver to drive them to the adjoining district of Samba. About a kilometre from the 16 Cavalry camp, they abandoned the truck, the Army said.

This is the worst attack in Jammu in over 10 years. It comes just three days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in the US.

In a statement, the PM said, "This is one more in a series of provocations and barbaric actions by the enemies of peace."
Gunners' Day: They keep the big guns booming
BANGALORE: It's time for Bangalore gunner officers to cherish their memories of cannons, guns and artillery equipment from their days in the Indian Army. City-based retired gunner officers, who call themselves the Bangalore Gunners, will join their brothers in arms from across the country in celebrating the 186th Gunners' Day on Saturday.

Bangalore Gunners is a closely knit community, with memories of serving in the forces. They'll join gunners in service to celebrate the romance of heavy artillery. In all, 250 officers will take part in the event.

Lt Gen (retd) A Natarajan, 70, one of the seniormost retired gunner officers here who fought in the Battle of Longewala in 1971, told TOI on Thursday that Gunners' Day brings together gunner officers under one roof. He said contemporary artillery equipment is technically advanced given its range but present-day officers miss no opportunity to learn from retired officers about the challenges they faced.

He said the recent Chinese intrusion into India reminded him the two-week patrolling he was part of in Arunachal Pradesh in the aftermath of the 1962 war against China. "A team of 12 officers and jawans patrolled the withdrawal routes of Chinese troops. We walked only at night," said Natarajan.

It was challenging as the weather conditions were extreme and officers had to carry rations for two weeks, weapons, sleeping tents, and radio sets on their backs, he said.

Gunners' Troop

Though Bangalore is home to thousands of retired Army, Navy and Air Force officers, there's no clarity on the number of gunner officers. The Armed Forces Retired Officers' Guild (AFROG) has 1,500 members from all branches. These veterans work for the welfare of their fraternity by organizing programmes where medical experts talk about maintaining good health and on geriatrics problems.

AFROG members meet at the Rajendra Sinhji Institute on MG Road. Its president A Natarajan said they organize talks of pension by experts to solve problems in availing post-retirement benefits.

Gunners' Day

The Regiment of Artillery in India was raised on September 28, 1827 as 5 Bombay Mountain Battery as part of the Bombay Army in the Presidency of Bombay and it's now celebrated as Gunners' Day. They're known as gunners as they handled guns and artillery equipment.

This year, the 186th Gunners' Day will be celebrated at RSI. Around 250 gunner officers, including retired and those in service, will take part. A movie on the history of the Regiment of Artillery will be screened and around 100 stamps related to Gunners' Day will be on display, said Vinay Parashar, a gunner officer currently based in Bangalore.
Defence experts fear India will be seen 'bending down too low' by talking to Pak
Defence experts on Thursday said India would be dismissed as a 'soft state' if Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh goes ahead with talks with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, after fresh attacks by militants in Jammu and Kashmir earlier today.

Lt. General (Retired) P.N. Hoon lashed out at the UPA-led Central Government for its soft attitude and said it's time that our well-equipped army took stringent action.

"I think we are bending down too low by having these talks. You have seen what has happened: the talks are on and the attacks are on. This is one of the biggest attacks in recent past, let alone those two beheading and other (incidents). There have been lot of causalities," Hoon said.

Labeling the talks as pointless, defense analyst Captain (Retired.) Bharat Verma on Thursday also shared the same sentiment and said that if dialogue takes place between the two countries in New York, it will send a damaging signal to the world on India's stance on being attacked.

"The talk is not going to work. You need to have a carrot and stick policy.So many attacks on India are happening, and now with this attack if even now the Prime Minister wants to talk with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it is not just a waste of time, it will only send a signal that no matter what you do, India will not use Danda (stick), India will only dialogue. India is a soft state," said Bharat Verma in New Delhi.

Verma added that government should ensure the military uniform of the Indian Armed forces is not freely available in open markets.

"Military is very distinct and it should remain very distinguished and its uniform should not be openly available in the open market. It should only be sold by ordinance only to the army, air force and navy," said Verma.

In a major attack, terrorists dressed in army fatigues have killed at least 12 people in a police station in Hiranagar in Kathua district and at an Army cantonment nearby this morning.

Over a dozen people are injured and more casualties are feared.

The militants first attacked a police station in Hiranagar of Kathua district. According to reports, six policemen and three civilians have been killed in the attack on the police station.

The militants later intercepted a truck on the highway, boarded it and forced its driver to move towards Jammu. The militants stopped the vehicle near the gate of an army camp in Samba and attacked the camp.

The militants started firing inside the army area, initiating the encounter with the security personnel.

A gun-battle is still on. Further details are awaited.

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