Exclusive: Surgical Strike in PoK’s Leepa Valley Especially Brutal
Prime target of the Indian Army’s surgical strikes were terror camps in PoK’s Leepa Valley, reports Chandan Nandy.
- Terror camps in Leepa Valley in PoK were the main targets of the 20th September stealth operation
- The counter-terror action in Leepa Valley was “especially brutal”
- The strikes took place over two phases: the first on 20 September and the other on 28 September
- Terror camps without Pak army ‘protection’ were mainly targeted
- According to an army source, the biggest achievement was bringing back alive 20 terrorists to India
The main thrust of the army’s 20 September stealth operation -- that is said to have significantly worsted terrorist infrastructure in at least seven camps -- was in Leepa Valley in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, The Quint has reliably learnt.
The counter-terrorist strikes, sources said, took place over two phases: the first on 20 September and the other on 28 September.
Action Plan Chalked out After Political Clearance
Highly placed army sources in Srinagar and New Delhi revealed that commandos from the 9th Paras crossed the LoC two days after the Uri attack after being covered by “enraged” troops from the 10th Dogra and 6th Bihar regiments — the same units which had lost 20 soldiers in the Uri terror strike.
The sources said that once the surgical strikes were given political clearance, the army brass took little time to chalk out an action plan which, besides the 9th Paras, involved senior officers in command positions of the Dogra and Bihar regiments stationed in Uri.
Terror Camps Close to Leepa Valley the Main Targets
By 19 September, the Dogra and the Bihar regiments moved swiftly to take control of a vast swathe of territory – about 240 km in length and running parallel to the LoC – and sanitised the zone. This “paved the way” for platoon-strength commandos of the 9th and the 3rd Paras to move across the LoC.
The prime target, apart from some small camps in PoK directly across Uri, was terror infrastructure opposite the Shamsabari ridge close to the Leepa Valley. Part of this valley is on the Indian side of the LoC while most of it extends into PoK. The Leepa Valley in PoK was long considered a “safe haven” for terrorists.
While sources said that 9th Para commandos struck the terrorist camps, a small Pakistan army outpost at Yaduri may also have been hit. Unconfirmed reports indicate that a few terrorist sites were hit in Neelam Valley in PoK too.
Besides, the sources said the commandos were backed by overhead drones whose powerful cameras captured graphic images of the surgical strikes.
Camps Without Pakistan Army ‘Shield’ Targeted
The surgical strikes continued across areas at a depth of 6-13 km in PoK over three days (and not just on 28 September as revealed by Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh). The strikes had an element of surprise, sources said, and were undertaken in zones where the presence of the Pakistani army was found to be “thin”.
Military sources revealed that many of the terrorist camps in the PoK part of the Leepa Valley were targeted because they did not “have the protection” of either the Pakistani army or its BAT (battalion action teams) which were engaged in the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier to fight the Taliban guerrillas.
‘20 Terrorists Brought Over for Interrogation’
Besides the destruction of the terrorist camps and the “launch pads”, which are used as staging grounds for pushing terrorists into Indian territory, the most significant achievement of the surgical strikes was the capture of about 20 terrorists who were brought over across the LoC for “intelligence purposes”, according to an army source.There has, however, been no official confirmation of this “catch”.
Besides, images captured by the drone-mounted cameras indicate that the commandos’ counter-terror action in PoK was “especially brutal”.
The villages on the Indian side of the LoC were made inaccessible to the general public. Even a week after the last surgical operations on 28 September, the entire stretch of the LoC in north Kashmir remains out-of-bounds for the media. This is because the army seeks to secure the huge stretch from Uri, Nowgam, Tangdhar and Teetwal, suggesting that troop deployment continues to be heavy along most parts of the LoC.
Protests in the Valley Continue Unabated
Military sources said that the withdrawal of additional troops from the LoC was not being contemplated for at least a couple of weeks even as there are fears of heightened terrorist activity in response to the surgical strikes.
Army movement continues in and around Chowkibal (in Kupwara sector), which is a major supply and logistics centre for the army and is about 50 km from the LoC. Meanwhile, markets dotting the stretch from Sopore northwards remain shut in a show of solidarity by Kashmiris protesting the use of pellet guns.
Throughout much of 5 October, a Pakistani flag flew atop a mobile phone tower close to the army’s base camp at Chowkibal, prompting soldiers of the Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) to take a decision to take it down. “One Pakistani flag was taken down a few days ago in the face of violent protests from local residents and we will remove this one too,” an MLI officer said.
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