February 2000 News

Pak trying out new routes for militants

14 February 2000
Indian Express
By Prashant Sood

JAMMU: Following pressure by security forces along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch, the Pakistani agencies are believed to be increasingly using the international border along Jammu and Kathua districts to push militants into the region. Besides spreading militancy to these two districts, the agencies may be also trying to provide alternative routes for ultras to higher reaches of Udhampur and Doda.

The series of blasts in Jammu recently and killings and kidnapping in Kathua district point in this direction. The police have started setting up village defence committees (VDCs) in the border villages and conducting intermittent searches in the forest areas around Jammu. They have also identified stretches from Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua to Bishnah in Jammu as areas sensitive to infiltration Security agencies fear the ISI is increasingly targeting Jammu city. ``Some of the routes being adopted by militants are only a few kilometres away from the city,'' points out an intelligence official. He refers to reports of sighting of militants by locals in Bathindi and Sidhra areas of Jammu.

Militants getting in through the international border here mostly use the beds of innumerable ravines that dot the area. A police official says they then use several routes to make their way to the higher reaches of Udhampur and Doda. ``The routes are through forested areas of Ramkot, Manasar, Latti-Basantgarh and Marmat,'' he says.

Besides encounters between militants and VDCs in border villages in which at least five people have died, there have been reports of seizures of arms and ammunition in recent months from the region. In the latest incident, the Kathua police recovered one sniper rifle, 1,000 rounds of AK-47, hand grenades, programme devices, remote control devices, rockets, four boosters and 20-kg RDX after an encounter at Navikali village on the bank of Nud Nullah on Samba-Mansar road. Four militants, however, managed to escape in the encounter.

The infiltrators, border villagers say, come in the garb of Gujjars and are guided by people who know the terrain. They also claim that the militants cross over without arms and these eventually reach them through channels maintained by the ISI. Security officials believe RDX is being sneaked in from the Samba area to cause blasts in trains coming from Jammu. The blast which killed three people on Thursday aboard the Sealdah Express also went off near Samba.

PTI adds: Rashtriya Rifles troops foiled a bid by suspected pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen militants to eliminate three Jammu and Kashmir ministers in Doda district of Jammu division on Saturday, official reports said. The RR personnel, acting on specific information, detected explosives with 15-kg RDX and a remote device under a culvert at village Siangwari, from where the ministers were to pass to inaugurate a newly constructed bridge. They included Works Minister Ali Mohmmad Sagar.


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