Jammu: The Army suspects the two “armed intruders” killed during the BAT (border action team) operation in the Poonch district along the Line of Control in Kashmir on Thursday afternoon, could be Special Services Group (SSG) commandos from the Pakistan Army.
The Indian Army has recovered an AK-47 assault rifle, magazines, grenades and daggers from the intruder whose body was left behind after the intense firefight around 600 metres inside Indian territory in the Krishna Ghati sector.
The body of another intruder was dragged back across the LoC by the six or seven-member BAT during the encounter, in which two Indian soldiers from the Maratha Light Infantry also lost their lives.
The intruder’s body also had a head-band mounted camera to possibly record their plan to commit some atrocity, which could have included the beheading of an Indian soldier.
“The way the BAT operation was conducted by the well-trained intruders dressed in combat fatigues, who resolutely engaged our 10-member patrol with accurate firing instead of fleeing like terrorists normally do after they are detected; the recoveries made and radio intercepts, among other things, all clearly point towards the involvement of SSG commandos. But yes, there is no conclusive evidence yet,” a senior officer said.
BAT operations are usually the handiwork of the SSG commandos trained for covert and irregular missions across the LoC, in conjunction with terrorists, after careful reconnaissance and study of vulnerable spots and patrolling patterns of Indian troops. Such teams do not carry stores and supplies like infiltrating terrorists, who need them to make their way to the hinterland in the Kashmir Valley.
As was reported by TOI, the BAT action on Thursday against the Maratha Light Infantry’s “area domination patrol” between two forward posts, near the Chakan da Bagh crossing point between India and Pakistan, was the third such incident in the Poonch area this year.
The Indian Army is “pro-actively dominating” the 778-km long LoC, which includes destruction of Pakistan Army’s posts aiding infiltration through “pre-emptive and punitive fire assaults”, as part of the overall counter-terrorism strategy put in place after the beheading of two Indian soldiers in a cross-border BAT raid-cum-ambush in the same Krishna Ghati sector on May 1.
The SSG’s first battalion was raised in the mid-1950s but it gained prominence when General Pervez Musharraf, who himself had served in the elite commando force as a young officer from 1966 to 1972, was the President of Pakistan from 2001 to 2008.
The SSG commandos, also called the “black storks”, were incidentally among the first batches of intruders who covertly crossed the LoC to establish fortified positions in the icy Kargil heights in 1999, which finally led to an armed conflict between the two countries. Most BAT operations conducted against Indian troops along the LoC, which include several beheadings over the years, have borne the clear imprint of the SSG.