SRINAGAR – Elite paratroopers of the Indian Army have reportedly been airdropped at the Gangabal forest area in Ganderbal district of Kashmir where the Army has been engaged in a massive operation against recently infiltrated militants for the past few days.
They had to be airdropped as there is no road access to the mountainous region, say media reports.
The troops have spread across the mountainous terrain fearing that there might a big group of militants, who have infiltrated LoC from remote Gurez area of Bandipora district and are trying to move towards the Tral town in south Kashmir on this traditional militant-route.
According to media reports, two militants were killed in the ongoing operations which began on September 27.
The Army maintained that it hasn’t suffered any casualties, even as the officials described the operation as “intense,” reports The Print.This is first encounter in the district since 2014.
This is one of the biggest anti-militancy operation launched in the Kashmir Valley after the central government stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and divided the state into two union territories.
The identities of slain militants are yet to be revealed.
Gangbal is a mountainous area, with a large fresh water lake located in between Gurez and Ganderbal districts. It also connects to the mountains surrounding Srinagar and south Kashmir. The lake is a favourite of foreign tourists for camping and trekking.
Tral, the hometown of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, has been a militant hot-bed for many years. The road in the area ends at a village called Naranag, around 40 kilometres towards the north-east of Srinagar. The location of the operation is around 17km trek road in the mountains, according to News18.
The paratroopers were reportedly airdropped at strategic locations in the forest and near the Army camp. According to The Print, locals said choppers made nearly 25 trips for dropping the soldiers.
The area of the operation has been closed for the civilian movement and journalists don’t have access to the place. After massive chopper movement, there were rumours among the locals that the Army suffered causalities. However, authorities have denied this and called the rumour baseless.
Since August 5, sightings of militants has increased but forces are not able to conduct operations in the residential neighbourhoods of Valley. As per police sources, over 450 militant sightings have been reported and there have been around 650 search operations. However, only three operations led to gunfights in which militants were killed, News18 reported.
There is also the concern that the treacherous Gangabal route is being used to enter the state even though Ganderbal district is considered to be militant-free zone.