| A soldier watches as his colleague’s pyre burns in Jammu. (AFP)
June 29: The Union government today said it would not be deterred from pursuing peace with Pakistan by the attack on an army camp at Jammu, while the army chief called for greater vigilance to prevent a rerun.
“Unfortunately, there are certain elements in PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) or across the border who always try to sabotage all peace moves because of many interests… and this may be one of those instances,” Union minister of state for home I.D. Swami said at Panchkula in Haryana.
Stating that such “barbaric” acts were timed with peace initiatives, he added: “I don’t think such attacks are going to deter the determination of the central government and the step Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has already taken (of extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan), which has been praised all over the world.”
Two militants stormed the Sunjwan army camp, which runs parallel to the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway bypass, and killed 12 soldiers in a pre-dawn strike yesterday. Seven soldiers were wounded and the fidayeen were killed during a four-hour gun battle inside the camp.
“Normally two organisations carry out such attacks, one being the LeT (Lashkar-e-Toiba),” said Swami when asked who could have raided the camp.
Asked if the attack was timed with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s Kashmir visit, Swami said: “These are conjectures. Unless we have complete details we cannot say anything.”
At Sunjwan, chief of army staff General .C. Vij directed 16 corps commander Lt Gen. T.P.S. Brar to maintain extra vigil at all camps in the region.
He reportedly told army commanders that such strikes were bad for the army. In May 2002, 30 soldiers and their wives and children were killed in an attack on the Kaluchak camp taking India and Pakistan to the brink of war.
Earlier, a grim Vij, a Jammu native, went round the barracks and asked how the militants managed to enter the camp.
The soldiers killed yesterday belonged to the 11 Dogra regiment, with 10 of them hailing from Jammu. They were cremated with full military honours at Poonch, Ranbirsinghpora and Ramgarh.
The bodies of two soldiers hailing from Tamil Nadu have been sent to their families.
The army is believed to have formed a team of its own to investigate the strike and has sought police help to find the antecedents of residents in nearby villages. Some houses there are abandoned and could have been used by the militants before they struck the camp.
Sources said the attackers could not have entered the barracks overnight without surveying the area earlier and without help from local residents. These angles are being investigated.
RSS flays Advani
RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan has criticised .K. Advani for having mentioned the possibility of “give and take on Kashmir” during his recent US visit.
“(Deputy Prime Minister) Advani spoke of give and take on Kashmir in Chicago. But what give and take can take place'” asked the Sangh chief.
Sudarshan said Pakistan was illegally occupying a part of Kashmir and a 1994 Parliament resolution was clear about that. “We have to get back Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” he said.
The Sangh chief was addressing RSS activists at the end of a three-week camp during which 70 workers received training.