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Friday, 9 June, 2000, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
'Better Kashmir intelligence needed'
Kashmir look-out
A clearer picture of the Pakistani side would help
By Altaf Hussein in Drass in Kashmir

The Indian Army's commander in the Drass sector of Jammu and Kashmir says his troops are ready to defeat any incursion from Pakistan - but the flow of intelligence is not good enough.

Drass, a small township in Kargil and the second-coldest inhabited area in the world after Siberia, was the worst hit by fighting between Indian troops and Pakistan-backed forces last year.

If you warn us everyday about the possibility of infiltration through this place and that, it is not actionable intelligence

Brigadier G Athmanathan

Brigadier G Athmanathan says Indian troops have set up their posts closer to the LoC and can better observe activities on the other side.

The strength of Indian troops in the region has increased four times and "the gaps have been reduced."

There is, thus, very little chance of a fresh incursion by the Pakistanis, he says.

No electronic intelligence

But he says a major drawback is the inadequate "actionable intelligence" about developments on the Pakistan side.

"If you warn us everyday about the possibility of infiltration through this place and that, it is not actionable intelligence."

Instead, he says, "if you can identify an area where a forward camp has been set up ahead of infiltration, then, of course, you can narrow it down and take better action."

Brigadier Athmanathan says the Indian Army has yet to get electronic surveillance devices for better monitoring of the LoC.

However, the troops are fully equipped to face harsh weather conditions.

Better equipment

They also have special drills for crossing avalanche-prone areas.

Soldiers clear snow
Special equipment has been brought in for high altitudes
Pre-fabricated huts, resistant to cold, have been provided to the troops at forward posts where the temperature goes down to -60 Celsius in winter.

Subedar Hira Lal, posted at Point 5240 beyond Tiger Hills, at an altitude of more than 17,000 feet, says the troops are no longer fighting the weather.

The forward posts are provided with radio and TV sets to cheer up the soldiers who are confined to their posts for three to four months in winter due to heavy snow.

Telephone facilities have been made available to the soldiers at one quarter of the normal tariff so they can speak to their families.

Mail is delivered to them every 10 days.

An added incentive is a special allowance which varies according to the rank of a soldier.

But Subedar Hira Lal says that though he is always ready to serve anywhere, he would not mind losing the allowance if he were posted in the plains where his family could join him.

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See also:

17 Nov 99 | South Asia
India goes arms shopping
26 May 99 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Under fire in Kargil
15 Jul 99 | South Asia
Flashpoint Kashmir: Special Report
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