On September 15, the intelligence agencies had alerted the Army about the presence of a group of eight Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists across the LoC in Pakistan, waiting for an opportunity to infiltrate into Uri with specific plans to hit the Army base.
According to intelligence sources, the agencies had noticed the eight as well as another group with mixed terror affiliation hiding in the mountains of Uri, watching the Army base from a height since August 28. “The intelligence alert on this was shared with all agencies and security forces, including the Army, through the multi-agency centre on September 15. It specifically warned of the likelihood of the terrorists crossing over and hitting the Uri camp,” an intelligence officer said.
If true, the claim suggests the Army failed to prevent four terrorists from sneaking in despite precise intelligence, a lapse which looks graver because the troops are supposed to be on high alert in view of the trouble in J&K. The intelligence agencies have strongly advised security forces in J&K to raise their alertness level, warningthat Pakistan would try to push in hundreds of terrorists after the UN General Assembly winds up this week.
Significantly, defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s comment that “something wrong must have happened” in Uri seemed to be an acknowledgement that the Army unit may have lowered the guard on the fateful night. The failure seems even more serious considering that the fidayeen squad cut the perimeter fence not at one but two places.
“They cut the fence at two points close to each other. This is obviously a major lapse that needs to be looked into,” said an officer. A security expert even questioned why the Army, in the middle of a heightened alert in J&K due to the recent cycle of protests, really needed an intelligence alert to secure and fortify its camps and bases.
Though the Army attributed the Uri attack to Jaish-e-Mohammed on Sunday, sources said the group was identified merely on the basis of a call made by a Jaish representative to a Kashmiri journalist owning responsibility for the attack. “Otherwise, the preliminary findings, particularly the recoveries from the terrorists, bear Lashkar’s imprint,” the intelligence operative said.
Incidentally, even the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is keeping its mind open on who carried out the Uri attack. “We will come to our own conclusion after examining the evidence and conducting further investigations,” an NIA officer said.
Meanwhile, top intelligence sources have warned that infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan into J&K — there have been over 100 instances so far this year — will go up further after the UNGA session comes to a close.
“Our information is that 200-300 terrorists are waiting at launchpads across the border. These launchpads are not only across the LoC/IB in J&K, but also sectors like Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region. Worse, we have inputs that some terrorists are waiting at infiltration points near Srinagar (Gulmarg side) and may strike in the J&K capital. Besides this, four of the eight LeT terrorists who appear to have successfully infiltrated into Uri are already inside and hiding somewhere in J&K,” said an official