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Operation Sarp Vinash chief pulled up
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | May 28, 2003 18:50 IST
The Indian Army top brass is deeply unhappy with the general officer commanding of Rashtriya Rifles' Romeo Force, Major General Hardev Lidder, who is leading Operation Sarp Vinash, the biggest ever anti-terrorism operation in Kashmir.
The operation, with its focal point at a remote village called Hill Kaka near Surankot and spread along the Pir Panjal ranges that divide Jammu from Kashmir, involves about 10,000 soldiers, including special forces.
Over 60 terrorists have already been killed under the operation.
Lidder was pulled up due to incessant reports in a section of the media that quoted him as saying that terrorists have been freely operating in a 100 sq km area in Surankot area of Jammu for almost four years.
A section of the media is projecting that as yet another Kargil, when terrorists, backed by the Pakistani Army, occupied strategic heights in Kashmir in 1999.
Major General Lidder, during his interactions with a team of journalists from New Delhi last week, had only speculated that the terrorists could have been there for three to four years. And he said the entire area of the operation was almost 100 sq km. In fact, the army PRO had clarified at the interaction itself not to misread the statement as if the terrorists were occupying that entire territory.
Army sources said Lidder has been pulled up by the Army Headquarters for the "irresponsible" comment. The operation, quite successful going by the standards of anti-militancy operations in such tough terrain, seems to be turning into an albatross around the army's neck.
The euphoria of the success of killing 62 terrorists and busting a huge terror enclave in a remote ridge that is at least 10 km away from the closest road head, is now giving way to questions about the army's failure in checking the terrorists from setting up base there.
Some sections of the media and analysts are now questioning why the army did not know that so many terrorists were operating for such a long time in such a vast area.
Sources said Major General Lidder has been asked to lie low.
The whole exercise is now turning into a big embarrassment for the army.
More reports from Jammu and Kashmir
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