The group of Pakistan-based terrorists who attacked the General Engineering Reserve Camp (GREF) at Battal in Aknoor Sector in Jammu and Kashmir on early 9 January, killing at least 3 workmen, were never challenged by security forces, initial investigations have revealed.
After entering the camp at about 1.15 am the terrorists went on a rampage, firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades.
The first Quick Reaction Team (QRT) comprising commandos of the Indian Army could reach only half an hour after the first shots were fired. By then, the terrorists had walked away without leaving a trace.
This delay is surprising, since there are at least two Indian Army detachments–that of the Artillery and Engineers–located adjacent to the GERF camp. The distance between the GREF camp and the army detachments is about 500-700 metres. “By the time the QRT reached the terrorists had vanished,” sources told HuffPost India, adding that “there was no effective challenge put–up.”
In response to queries raised by HuffPost India, a spokesperson of the Indian Army said, “A QRT of an Infantry battalion nearest to the site of incident was immediately activated and was effective at the site within 30 minutes.” The spokesperson also said “as per Standard Operating Procedures each unit and sub unit maintains a Quick Reaction Teams in the Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism grid.”
Initial investigations also suggest the terrorist infiltrated from the Line of Control (LoC) that is about 3 to 5 kilometres away from the scene of the attack. The Manawar Tawi River–that flows from India into Pakistan–flows by the GREF Camp. There are Indian Army post on the hill that lies across the Manawar Tawi river. It is suspected that the terrorists infiltrated through this area under the cover of thick fog and darkness.
The Indian Army launched a manhunt after the attack. The entire area was cordoned off. But, till now there isn’t trace of the terrorists.
This isn’t the first time that questions have been raised about the slow response of the Indian Army to terror attacks on military installations in Jammu and Kashmir. Last September, four terrorists walked at least a kilometre into Uri Brigade Command and killed 19 soldiers.