Kupwara operation enters 17th day

┬áThe anti-terrorist operation in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, which left an army officer dead and another injured, today entered the 17th day with the security forces moving cautiously to avoid any collateral damage while dealing with militants.
“The operation (at Manigah in Kupwara) is still in progress…We want to avoid collateral damage. When a terrorist is holed up in a house, we do not want the other occupants injured or harmed. We are also wary that if a house, where the terrorist is hiding is destroyed, the fire might spread to nearby houses,” General Officer Commanding of Army’s 15 Corps Lt General Satish Dua said here.
The operation in Manigah forests was launched on November 13 by the Army following information about the presence of a group of heavily armed militants in the area.
Colonel Santosh Mahadik was killed on November 17 while another officer and three other army personnel were also injured in the operation. One unidentified militant has also been killed.
The Corps Commander said the security forces have at times let the militants flee rather than risk damage to the other occupants of the area.
“So this is the type of collateral damage we are wary of and at times we have actually let terrorist get away rather than damage occupants or house there because fire could spread to neighbouring houses and that is the case where (LeT Commander) Abu Qasim was killed,” he added.
On how the militants were able to continue for so long, Lt Gen Dua said they were getting sustenance from nearby villages.
“They are getting some sustenance from the nearby villages and that is how we get information whenever they come inside. That is why after every 3-4 days we have a contact (with the terrorists),” he said.
The General Officer Commanding said the army is using unarmed aerial vehicles for surveillance in the Kupwara operation and other operations as well.
“What we have is unarmed vehicles in the army and they are only providing a surveillance feed. So in any area that is suspect, UAVs are being used and in the ongoing operations, whenever weather permits, they are being used,” he added.
Lt Gen Dua said although the terrain where the operation was going on is tricky and thickly forested, the army has not allowed militants to cross the reception area to the hinterland.
“They have been stopped there for last 15 days. They are not able to cross the reception area. The terrain over there is tricky, thickly forested and high altitude areas,” he said.