IB drives a wedge among militants
24 July 2000
New Delhi: A swift operation from Intelligence Bureau (IB), backed by RAW, has now drawn a line between foreign and Kashmiri militants in Kashmir valley. The division, seen as a blow for ISI and Pak Army, may now see different opinions between militant groups fighting for ''jehad'' in the valley. For IB sleuths the operation proved to be a game of trust and suspicion. Almost entire month of June was crucial for the Intelligence officials who tried level best to convince the interlocutors of Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir that Centre was ''really'' willing for a ceasefire. Sources in the IB revealed that Hizbul''s deputy chief Abdul Majid raised doubts over New Delhi''s assurance for a unilateral ceasefire. ''Subsequently, top IB and Home Ministry officials were flown to Srinagar where the interlocutors were told that Home Minister L K Advani is ready to negotiate with militants of Indian origin. Majid was told that foreign mercenary groups - Laskar-e-Toiba, Al Badar and Harkat-ul-Ansar - do not figure in the MHA''s list and on no account the Centre will speak to them,'' revealed a source. In fact, Indian Intelligence agencies exploited the rift between Kashmiri militants and the foreign mercenaries as the chinks were exposed soon after the killing of 35 Sikhs near Anantnag. ''The Hizbul commander had protested to the Amir of Laskar-e-Toiba for targeting Sikhs - a hitherto neutral community. The rift widened day by day as disputes related to arms and money between Hizbul and Laskar leadership. The Indian agencies sent the initial feeler to Hizbul through one of its senior cadre arrested in Rajouri. Later, Hizbul representatives were approached by the IB men in Srinagar resulting in several round of talks between the interlocutors from both the sides. A few Hurriyat leaders also contributed,'' the source said. Sources said the IB has now hinted that foreign mercenaries might escalate violence in Kashmir as protest to the ceasefire. For Laskar cadres, the move is seen as a sort of compromise between Kashmiri militants and the Government. Similar reaction from ISI, Pakistan Army and the Pak Government is being anticipated in New Delhi. The security forces and the Jammu and Kashmir police have been put on red alert while patrolling has been intensified in the border areas. Meanwhile, an MHA spokesperson said any move which points towards peace is welcomed by the Government. ''We have noted the announcement made by Hizbul Mujahideen. Government is watching the situation and closely monitoring the developments in Srinagar to make its assessment later. We are in touch with the State Government,'' said an official.