New Delhi, Dec 23: A top Indian army officer has disclosed that his forces planned to launch a major offensive in January against Pakistan-based targets, news reports said on Monday.

They quoted the new army chief designate Lt-Gen N.C. Vij as telling paratrooper units in Bangalore that the army had planned “a major commando operation in January this year to hit and seal off major terrorist launching pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir as part of the army’s Operation Parakarma.”

It was called off “at the last moment”, Vij was quoted by Star News as saying.

“We had chosen a big objective and a major operation was planned,” Vij said in his address at the paratroopers golden jubilee celebrations which concluded in Bangalore on Monday.

Press Trust of India, which also carried remarks by Vij, also quoted army spokesman Brig. Shruti Kant, however, as denying Gen Vij had made such comments in Bangalore.

Without elaborating on the target and merely saying that the objective was across the Line of Control, Gen Vij said men from the special forces, specialized units of army and air force were to be involved in the attack, which “was called off at the last moment.”

Vij disclosed that the operation was to be jointly undertaken by the army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) and that “would assume significance in the context of continued tensions with Pakistan.”

“Vij said with this in mind extensive training in such operations were being undertaken by the armed forces,” according to PTI.

Although the army chief designate did not reveal the precise target to be hit across the LoC, news reports quoted informed army sources as saying the plan was to push in a brigade of army commandos to capture “terrorist ingress routes” like the Haji Pir pass, areas opposite Keran and Titwal sectors and areas across Dras and Kargil sectors.

India had mobilized its troops to strategic position along the LoC in December after the attack on parliament on Dec 13, accusing the gunmen of belonging to Pakistan-based militant groups.

Star News said a squadron of the Mirage 2000, which was to help in the mission by large-scale interdiction, had been moved to forward bases in Punjab for joint training with the ground forces.

In the operation, regular troops already in forward deployment, were to act as holding units.

The army chief-designate said that this was not the first time that such a massive scale special operation had been planned.

He disclosed that towards the end of Operation Vijay (Victory) in the 1999 Kargil conflict, the Para Brigade was given the special task of “capturing the Pakistani major base of Gultari to destroy the Pakistani administrative base for terrorists as well as its regular troops.”

“The time ran out for the operations as Pakistani raised their hands and announced cessation of hostilities,” one report quoted General Vij as saying.

The army chief-designate further said that special forces had recently been armed with highly specialized weaponry for carrying out such operations as well as for anti-insurgency strikes.

Vij said as result of a number of joint exercises undertaken with US special forces, the Indian para commandos had picked up latest anti-insurgency tactics and also become adept in the use of such weapons.

He said the Army Headquarters had taken a decision to deploy para battalions on rotation basis in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and in the Northeast with only one battalion to be deployed in Kashmir for a one-year tenure.

“The Indian Army para commandos units are drawn from 9th battalion, 10th battalion, 1st battalion and 21st battalion of the special forces,” the report said.

They are armed with US-acquired advanced weapons like MP-4 and MP-5 assault rifles, infrared night devices, Kevlar bullet-proof jackets, and hi-tech frequency hopping communication sets.

The American MP-4 and MP-5 multipurpose assault rifles carry specialized multi-disintegration bullets, which after leaving the muzzle disintegrate into countless shrapnel, capable of picking up as many as dozen human targets at the same time, the report said.

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