Some Indian media reports today have claimed that the Pakistan Army took down the GPS coordinates and other details of all helipads in the Ladakh sector from the Indian Army Cheetah helicopter that strayed into Pakistan administered Kashmir at the weekend.
However, India’s junior defence minister, M.M. Pallam Raju, has made light of this reported threat to national security, saying in Kolkata today that no helicopter had any secret information to be taken. Raju was asked to comment on the reports at a function in Kolkata. He said his ministry was taking adequate safeguards for national security. ‘There is no secret information in any helicopter. It’s regular information that is needed for any machine. So I do not think that is the case,’ Raju was quoted as saying.
Reports attributed to Indian government sources said the Indian Army has ordered a high-level inquiry into the chopper incident as an inspection of the helicopter after it was allowed to return to India a few hours after it landed suggest that the GPS data, nicknames and code signs of all helipads in the 14 Corps deployed in the Ladakh-Siachen region were missing from the chopper. The 14 Corps of the Indian Army are responsible for defending Indian territory from Pakistan and China.
A question before the inquiry panel is clearly how the Cheetah strayed into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in the first place, as it was equipped with GPS. While the Indian Army is in the process of assessing the extent to which vital security information may have been compromised in the wake of the Cheetah helicopter incident, efforts are already being made to change the nicknames and code signs of the helipads in the 14 Corps region.
One thing to note in Raju’s reported comments is that he didn’t unequivocally deny that GPS data and other information had been taken, although he was also careful not to point any fingers at Pakistan. Indeed, India’s External Affairs Ministry has already gone on record stating its appreciation for Pakistan’s conduct over the issue.
‘We greatly appreciate the manner in which Pakistan worked with us in resolving the matter,’ MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said Sunday evening after the return of the helicopter and the crew.