New Delhi, October 20: Defence Minister A.K. Antony will hold a high-level meeting with the armed forces later this month during which he is expected to review the 15-day operation by the Army in Keran sector along the LoC over which questions have been raised.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing his concern to the Defence Ministry over the handling of the operations by the Army in Keran where it claimed to have engaged a large group of terrorists but nobody was found there after 15 days.
Mr. Antony will hold the review meeting with the three Services chiefs and Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur later this month where the Keran incident is expected to come up for discussion, sources said in New Delhi.
National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who had briefed the Prime Minister about the whole incident, is also expected to be present at the meeting, they said.
The four-day Army Commanders’ Conference starting from October 21 is also expected to discuss various aspects of the entire operation to evolve strategies for handling such incidents in the future.
Questions have also been raised over the preparedness of the Army at a time when there have been two incidents of attacks on Indian troops inside Indian territory in the past 10 months and ceasefire violations by Pakistan have become very frequent.
It is learnt that the Prime Minister expressed concern over the incident as a lot of “exaggerated claims” were made by formations about their success there but the encounter went on for 15 days and, after it got over, the results did not match the claims.
Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh had briefed Mr. Antony when he was recuperating at the hospital after his prostate surgery.
The Defence Ministry has held discussions with the Army Headquarters on the issue in which details of the conduct of the operations were discussed.
The representatives of the Directorate General of Military Operations, which looks after such large-scale operations, were present during the meeting, the sources said.
Soon after the Keran operation started on September 24, Army authorities had claimed that 35-40 terrorists had infiltrated and around a dozen had been killed in the initial contact phase itself.
However, only eight could be killed in the operation that got over on October 8, and the bodies were also recovered from adjoining areas.
Questions have been raised over the operations by the local formation and the senior commanders there as several loopholes have been cited in their conduct.
At the Commanders’ conference, the senior leadership of the Army is expected to discuss the frequent ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army along the Line of Control and also the ways to tackle it.
The issue of Chinese incursions and issues related to the raising of the new Mountain Strike Corps along the China border is also expected to be discussed by the Army Commanders.