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Farooq salt on army wound

New Delhi, July 9: The army today came out with a “factsheet” on Operation Sarp Vinash, its attack on militant bases near Surankote in Jammu and Kashmir in April-May, but former Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah added to its discomfiture by claiming that he had been talking of the militant concentration in the region for the last three years.

An army spokesperson said Operation Sarp Vinash covered an area of 150 square km and killed 65 terrorists and busted 119 hideouts. Five soldiers were killed during the operation.

He said the operation involved two brigades on the Surankote side of Pir Panjal and two battalions in the north, apart from additional troops that have been deployed in the fringe areas. This would mean an operation possibly involving about 10,000 troops. The army projects the operation as a major success, despite the controversies dogging it following allegations and reports that did not bear out its initial claims.

The “factsheet” says: “Operation Sarp Vinash was a well co-ordinated and executed operation launched in the area of Hilkaka and has indeed been very cost effective and a resounding success.”

But Abdullah claimed that the army operation was belated. Abdullah, who was in Delhi to participate in a parliamentary consultative committee meeting, said: “I have been raising the issue with the army in every meeting of the unified headquarters but saw no action.”

Abdullah said he had no idea why the army had put off the operation till April. “Maybe they had some operational requirement,” he said. “Well, they have faced the damage as most of the militants are reported to have fled the Hilkaka region and are now entrenched in other areas of Doda, Udhampur, Rajouri and Kishtawar, killing people at their whim.”

Asked when the army had first been informed about the militants, Abdullah, now a Rajya Sabha MP, said: “The information started trickling first from the Intelligence Bureau and was further substantiated by state police. As a fallout of these reports, the Indian Air Force had decided not to fly helicopters around this region.”

The army admits that it has been operating in the area in the past, but claims that Sarp Vinash destroyed the militant bases whereas earlier, it was mainly chasing and harassing militants.

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