Terrorists are attempting to shoot down helicopters over the jungles of Doda in Jammu and higher reaches of North Kashmir, prompting the Union Home Ministry to advise on the appropriate height to maintain during a flight and securing the landing area at the helipad.
A circular was issued after central security agencies reported to the Ministry about a hole in the tail of a Pathankot-based helicopter squadron which had returned after a sortie from terrorism-hit Doda region, official sources said.
A forensic examination of the 20 MM hole on the side of tail-fin of the chopper left the sleuths and the Indian Air Force officials zapped as it confirmed that it was caused by a bullet.
It is suspected that the most probable location of firing was Doda in Jammu and Kashmir. The flight path of the helicopter was chalked out and it was found that it was flying over the jungles in Doda after which a conclusion was drawn that terrorists could have attempted to target the helicopter which was on a regular Pathankot-Kud-Mundhar-Batot sortie, the sources said.
In a communication to state police chiefs, the Home Ministry asked them to ensure proper flight path and securing helipads properly and also to take extra precautions by deploying Quick Reaction Teams in case of a VIP.While emphasising that the helicopters were an important link during the rescue operations, the Ministry asked the Army to carry out combing operations of various jungles where terrorists were suspected to be holed up.
While some of the Indian Air Force officials chose not to comment on the subject, officials in the state police department said this was possibly the first time that a helicopter had been hit by bullets during sortie.
The Ministry also asked the states for sanitisation of helipads and a proper briefing to IAF pilots should be given.