May 2000 News

New era of militancy: Drugs, mercenaries, hi-tech weapons

22 May 2000
Hindustan Times
Anil Anand

Gulmarg: HE KASHMIR Valley is passing through a crucial phase with the India sparing no efforts to restore normalcy against Pakistan''s desperate efforts. The hostile neighbour''s proxy war has assumed new dimensions, sustained as it is by drugs, fresh infiltrators and high-tech weaponry. A bumper crop of over 46 tonnes of opium in Afghanistan is believed to have been purchased in bulk by the Pakistan''s ISI this year. And the Rs 300-crore profit from it is likely to be used to foment further trouble on Indian territory. The drug-trafficking phenomenon, a sample of which was available in seizures made in recent weeks, is accompanied by a noticeable spurt in incursions by Pak-trained militants. Over the past one month, such violations of the LoC have been the maximum in the sensitive Baramullah-Kupwara range. The melting snow has cleared the infiltrators'' favourite routes in the inhospitable terrain. Lately, the Pak artillery has also sought to create panic in areas along the LoC by directing artillery fire at civilian targets. The Indian perception is that Islamabad is bent upon destabilising the prospects of normalcy by opening different fronts on the control line. Mr Dilbagh Singh, DIG (Baramullah Range), J&K Police, disclosed four major infiltration attempts have been reported from the most vulnerable Baramullah-Kupwara sector in the past one month. In small groups of 5-12, the militants attempted to cross over from Karnah, Rafiabad, Nogam and Gurez. But their operations were foiled. Counter insurgency experts view infiltrations in this sector in the backdrop of intelligence reports of active training camps in the PoK capital, Muzzafrabad, and other neighbouring areas of PoK. While admitting that many incidents of infiltration might have gone unnoticed as militants sometimes did manage to cross over under cover of heavy Pak shelling, Mr Singh apprehended more such bids this year as Pakistan, in his view, was desperate to reinforce the militants'' shrinking ranks. Mr Singh pointed out that significantly, 75 out of every 100 militants killed by the security forces in the last four months were of foreign origin. A major cause of concern for India was that Islamabad has now armed the militants with high-tech weapons. The era of AK-47s seems to be over. In many cases, the insurgents have been found carrying Universal Machine Guns, automatic grenade and rocket launchers, surface-to-air missiles and heavy mortars. Some weapons of this kind have been seized by security forces in combing operations. ''Our security forces are fully equipped and aware about the tactics of the militants. The so-called high-tech weapons have been acquired by them for safe-distance ''stand off attacks. What we need is a greater vigilance to thwart such attempts,'' a senior Home Ministry official said.


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