External Affairs

Uri Attack: Villagers Worry About Increased Hostilities; IB Chief Says Plans From 'Beyond Border'

The heavy artillery exchange has reminded border residents of how things used to be before the 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement.

Five days after 17 soldiers were killed and 19 other personnel injured in a militant attack on an army camp in north Kashmir’s Uri town, patrol jets continue to hover over north Kashmir.

Villagers worried about pre-ceasefire situation

According to an Indian Express report, the heavy artillery exchange has reminded border residents of how things used to be before the 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement. After the agreement, there has been peace in the area other than a few skirmishes.

As Indo-Pakistan hostilities increase after the Uri attack, villagers in Uri are worried about what this could mean. “I remember the days when shells used to land in civilian areas. Many lost their lives, including people I knew. After the ceasefire, we have been living a peaceful life,” Mohammed Aijaz Khan, who runs a hotel in the main market, told Indian Express. “Now we are worried about cross-border shelling again.”

Khan’s family still has an underground bunker from the 1990s. “If shelling starts, the people of Uri will suffer the most. Unlike our neighbours, who have no underground shelters, we are lucky as we can save ourselves,” he said.

Similar concerns also exist in other villages in the area. “We have seen the worst shelling. In the late 1990s, dozens of families migrated from our area. Now every villager is concerned,” Hilal Ahmad, who teaches in a private school in Trikanjan village, 25 km from Uri, told Indian Express.

IB chief says Uri planning and financing from beyond the border

Meanwhile, Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma on Thursday said that this attack was “only one in a series of such dastardly acts during the last few decades for which planning, financing, training, arming and indoctrination on religious lines owe their origins to sources beyond the borders of India,” Indian Express reported. He did not explicitly name Pakistan in his statements.

Speaking at the second meeting of the SAARC ‘high-level group of eminent experts on anti-terror mechanism, Sharma added that “All of our countries have experienced the ravages of terrorism in some form or the other. Terrorist organisations use easily accessible technology to attack both soft and hard targets to undermine public confidence and eventually the structure of the state.”

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier said that he was “serious” about punishing those responsible for the Uri attack and will “not sleep over” terror being pushed into India from across the border.

‘Smart gear’ for militants

The National Intelligence Agency is using damaged GPS systems found at the site of the attack to try and track the militants who carried out the Uri attack, Hindustan Times reported. This mapping is apparently meant to support India’s claim that the militants came from Pakistan. Islamabad has denied any links to the attack.

Two damaged GPS systems were found at the site of the attack, the Hindustan Times report said, which have been given to the National Technical Research Organisation to try and retrieve data. A handset was also found, apparently similar to handsets used by militants in the past.

Such technology has been found with militants in the past. It helps them navigate areas without local guides and keeps them off the security surveillance radar, Hindustan Times reported. A senior police officer told the newspaper Pakistan-based militant organisations have been using technology in their operations since 2010.

“Earlier militants needed a local guide to cross over, the guide could be co-opted and most of the bids were foiled that way,’’ the officer said ,”but now GPS can help the militants reach their destinations without any help.”