A large number of terrorists are waiting at launching pads across the Line of Control (LoC) to cross over into Indian territory in Kashmir and ceasefire violations by Pakistan are partly an attempt to push in infiltrators, a top Army commander said in Srinagar on Monday.
''We have inputs of many infiltrators waiting at the launching pads and we think infiltration will start sooner this year because of less snow. But we are taking counter measures.
''One reason for the firing can be this. Whenever there is firing by Pakistan, it is certain there is an attempt to push infiltrators. The same thing happened in Kupwara and Tangdhar,'' General Officer Commanding of the Srinagar-based 15th Corps or Chinar Corps, Lieutenant General A K Bhatt, told reporters on the sidelines of a passing out parade at the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Centre in Srinagar.
The militants waiting across the LoC were in groups of 30-40 at many places from Lepa valley to Mandal area, near 161 brigade, Rampur, and other areas, he said.
Lt Gen Bhatt said the Indian forces did not want to open up the entire front along the Line of Control in Kashmir.
The statement from the top commander in Kashmir comes soon after artillery shells were used for the first time in Uri after the 2003 ceasefire pact to ''punish Pakistan for its misadventures and for aiding and abetting infiltration''. The heavy shelling triggered panic among the border residents in Uri and over 100 families vacated their houses (See: Uri shelling: villagers stuck between a rock and a hard place).
''The ceasefire violations, which have been started by Pakistan have been appropriately responded to by us. It is more of a local affair for a specific reason where due to their action we have reacted at specific places. We do not intend to open the entire front. We will retaliate only if Pakistan does aggressive action or pushes infiltrators across,'' Lt Gen Bhatt said.
Asked about reports of announcements made by Pakistan asking villagers to evacuate, Lt General Bhatt said they were not for the villagers on the Indian side of the LoC.
''They advised a few of the villages there to vacate for safety reasons and my input is that those villages have also not vacated completely,'' he said.
An attempt by a Border Action Team (BAT) of Pakistan to sneak into Kupwara was foiled and such attempts will always be dealt in the same manner, he emphasised.
On the use of heavy artillery along the LoC in Uri sector, the Army commander said specific situations determine the kind of artillery used.
Referring to the killing of two policemen in separate attacks on Sunday, Lt General Bhatt said militants were looking for easy targets.
''Firstly, my condolences to the two brave policemen we lost yesterday. Any loss of life is a loss to us. You know, they would look at the easiest target they can find and these are small posts where security personnel are less in number. But we will take all actions to ensure that they are appropriately taken care of,'' he said.
He said the security forces would continue to target the militant leadership and there is complete synergy and coordination between all the agencies.
On the Shopian firing incident, the Army commander said, ''The matter is sub-judice and I will not go into details. But, the basic thing I want to tell you is that our jawans will not fire till extreme provocation and till there is no danger to life and property. If our jawans fired that day, it was because the situation was such. There were apprehensions of lynching and loss of life and property. I want to tell you that we have never opened fire on civilians and we will never do so,'' he said.
''My primary aim is to ensure that there is peace and prosperity in Kashmir. My primary focus will be to carry out people friendly operations so that Kashmir, which is moving towards mainstream, continues doing so,'' he said.