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Army may get Israeli satellite pictures of LoC

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | February 19, 2004 09:01 IST

The Indian Army is trying to acquire Israeli military satellite images of the Line of Control to study infiltration patterns, an army source told rediff.com

He revealed that a formal request has been placed for such pictures during Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to India. They will be high quality 50 centimetres resolution images, he said.

"The pictures will drastically improve our understanding of snow melting patterns," the officer said.

He said the army is closely looking at the snow melting patterns to understand its trend and the resultant impact on infiltration.

India has since the Kargil conflict been trying to understand the pattern and even used images from a European satellite

There has been significant drop in infiltration across the border from Pakistan in recent days, admit army and other security agencies.

After ceasefire between the two sides late last year there has been only two major infiltration bids across the Line of Control, army officers said. The army says it foiled two attempts in the Poonch district -- one on December 17 and another on February 6.

On both occasions the army managed to gun down militants trying to sneak in.

"The drop is a strategic move as well as due to winter," a senior army officer said. "But the terrorist camps are alive, active. So there is no paradigm shift in Pakistan's state support on terrorism."

An intelligence officer said there was 'visible drop, and almost zero infiltration' in the first week of January just before Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Islamabad visit.

He said there seemed to have been 'some sort of order' to the Pakistan Army units along the border and the ISI elements not to allow infiltration during Vajpayee's visit or in the run up to it.

Army chief General Nirmal Chand Vij on February 13 said though terrorism has declined in the state infiltration was still continuing. Defence Minister George Fernandes, however, claimed last week that there has been a major fall in infiltration.

"Zero infiltration has been reported from areas in Jammu where fencing is complete and sensors are deployed," a senior army officer said.

Along the higher reaches of Line of Control in Kashmir Valley snow cover is preventing infiltration as of now. "We will have to wait till the snow melts," the officer added.

The Indian officialdom also expressed similar sentiments. "As of now the camps exists, and technically infiltration has not fully stopped," an officer dealing with the Kashmir situation said.

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