Srinagar: A 19-year-old Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) member was captured by the Army after his accomplice was killed during an infiltration bid near the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Uri sector. According to a senior Army officer, the captured militant was identified as Ali Babar Patra, a resident of Dipalpur area in Okara district, Punjab province, Pakistan.
The incident was reported on the fifth anniversary of the 2016 Uri garrison attack, which killed 19 Indian soldiers and subsequently prompted India to carry out a ‘surgical strike’ by its Special Forces across the LoC.
The Army had launched a massive nine-day search operation when the first reports of infiltration surfaced on September 19. The authorities responded to the situation by snapping mobile networks and Internet services for more than a day before restoring them. As many as seven militants have been reportedly killed, including five near the LoC, in the region and, at least, one arrested since then.
The Army officer said that Pakistani infiltrators were trying to cross the LoC in Uri on the intervening night of September 18 and 19 but was “eliminated in the successive nights”. Six militants, including Patra, taking advantage of the darkness, uneven ground, bad weather and thick undergrowth, tried to infiltrate from the Pakistani post of Jabri, he added. Patra’s associates were identified as Tayyab (24) and Abu Bakkar Salfi (22) from Faisalabad, Punjab, Abu Khitab (35) and Usman (27), both residents of Lahore and Atiq ur Rehman, alias Qari Anas (33).
On the evening of September 25, another patrol party confronted the infiltrators about 800 meters inside the LoC, leading to the elimination of Anas (33) and Patra’s surrender.
“While two of them crossed the LoC, the remaining four retreated during the contact with the Army. Subsequently, additional forces were deployed, multiple patrols launched in the suspected areas and the getaway routes blocked,” the officer added. The route taken by the militants to infiltrate the Lo C was from Sawai Nala Camp to Hallan Shumali Launch pad to Jabri, leading into Salamabad Nala, the officer added.
There has been a spurt in infiltration with a similar attempt reported in Rampur sector, Baramulla, where three militants were killed by the Army along the LoC in Hathlanga area on September 23.
Earlier this year, both India and Pakistan had agreed to respect the ceasefire treaty and put an end to cross-border violence, which had escalated in the past few years, especially in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370. The fresh infiltration attempts and the nine days of military operation come as a jolt to the fragile peace that existed along the LoC since February.
“The Pakistan Army’s connivance in abetting infiltration continues as it is difficult to crossing the Line of Control without active support of local Pakistan military commanders,” the officer said.