Militants plan to kidnap traders in J&K for extortion
24 April 2000
New Delhi: The authorities have just received what is described as “highly sensational” inputs from across the border, clearly defining the contours of a new plan for engineering abduction of traders in Jammu and Kashmir. Even as Pakistan’s highly powerful and resourceful narcotic lobby has already made available several crores of rupees during the first quarter of this year to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for keeping alive and kicking hundreds of jehadis on this side of the Line of Control (LoC), scores of anti-India militants, particularly the ones operating from the inaccessible forest areas of Doda and Udhampur districts of Jammu region have, as revealed by the recent radio intercepts, made a pointed reference to the “acute paucity” of money at their disposal. Tightening of security measures by Indian security forces, in recent days, in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir has, apparently, resulted in the obstruction to the flow of cash deposits to a number of underground anti-India cells not only in the Kashmir valley but also in the affected sections of the Jammu province. No wonder, Pakistan-based supporters of jehadis and other anti-India elements operating from different places in Jammu and Kashmir have now favoured kidnapping of financially rich traders and transporters as part of a stepped-up extortion drive. One of the intercepted messages identified the areas where kidnapping operations are to be carried out. As many as 10 areas have been identified - 6 in Jammu province and 4 in Kashmir valley. Equally alarming was the signal sent through the second message from across the border: “Soldiers of Allah” will now have in their hands long-range guns to target Indian Air Force fighters and helicopters. Information about the plans of ISI to provide long-range guns and mortars as per geographical area requirements has become available at a time when groups of Pakistan-sponsored ultras in certain upper reaches and forest areas in J&K had found themselves somewhat uneasy following the Unified Headquarter’s decision to make use of helicopter gunships to liquidate bases of militants and mercenaries. The intercepted message, of course, talked about the arrangements made for equipping all categories of jehadis with sophisticated arms and ammunition and long-range guns and mortars. But nothing was mentioned, even by way of a hint, with regard the channel or route or agencies used for transporting these arms. All that the message wanted to convey was: “Jo bhi Hindustani jahaz tum pur bum barsaayega, us jahaz ko jala daalo aur Hindustani fauj key liye ek museebat kay baad doosri museebat paida kar lo” (Burn down that Indian plane which will bombard you, and create hardships, one after another, for the Indian Army). This and the other message, intelligence inputs revealed, were communicated after a high-level meeting held recently on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The meeting was attended, among others, by senior functionaries of Pak Army’s 12 Division, ISI, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Hizbul Mujahideen. Yet another disturbing signal: The ISI, an Indian security specialist said, had something serious up its sleeves. And when asked to elaborate on it, he told EXCELSIOR that reports from across the border had provided a clear indication of the ISI’s directive to Kashmir-based terrorists to create ‘no-fly zones’ in the Valley as well as in Doda region to keep Indian fighters and helicopters out of that airspace. And the warning from across the border: Any Indian aircraft violating the ‘no-fly zone’ will be shot down. This is a pointer to the presence of anti-aircraft guns in the hands of various Pakistan-trained militants and guerrillas. It is a different matter that the actual number of these anti-aircraft guns is not known to Indian intelligence agencies. These agencies, particularly the RAW, have reportedly drawn the authorities’ attention to the ISI’s re-structured plan to ensure two things, namely, collection of data about the deployment, operation and movement of Indian security forces and improving the mode of training for Kashmir-bound jehadis and terrorists.