September 2000 News

New Strategies Employed By Troops Against Jammu And Kashmir Militants

18 September 2000
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Srinagar: Troops engaged in anti-militancy operations in Kashmir have embarked on new and lethal strategies against militants whose foreign content is higher than ever before. Troops killed 10 militants of the Tehreek-ul-Jehad in a single operation in Poonch on Saturday night. Men of the Poonch Brigade followed footprints on the winding bridal paths in the Moguna forests in Mandi. The trail led them to the militants and the ensuing encounter left 10 militants dead. The body count of the militants is rising. It is over 1,000 since the beginning of this year - one of the highest casualty rates of militants in the past 11 years. The present offensive against the militants has probably intensified after the Army lost 15 of its men in a suicide attack by two militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jamait-ul-Mujahadeen early last week. More sophisticated weapons are being used in the anti-insurgency operations. That has been necessitated by the matching hardcore content of militants drawn from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries. The militants have anti-aircraft guns, micro aero model capable of delivering explosives, anti-tank weaponry, anti-personnel mines and quintals of RDX. There are suicide squads of militant outfits that now shun the usual guerrilla warfare tactics of ambushes and hit and run measures and attack military installations. Indian Army Chief Gen. V. P. Malik too acknowledged them. There are militants desperate to embark on suicide missions and there are a large number of them. The Army too changed its strategy. The militants had so far taken advantage of their familiarity with the mountains and positions on the rock heights. But the Army''s reliance on helicopters for targeting militants has robbed them of that advantage. The killing of Farooq Ansari, the provincial chief of the Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen in Marmat forests in Doda, was a big blow to the outfit that has alternated between promises of a fresh cease-fire to increased offensive against the Indian security forces. In the perception of the security forces Ansari was worth tens of militants. He had a record of a series of ruthless killings and unrelenting violent actions against the security forces. But the situation at the Line of Control, where fresh recruits march into Indian territory, continues to be a source of concern. ''What do you do?'' asks a senior police officer, who has been part of several anti-militancy operations for the past decade. ''There are many to replace the existing ones. They keep on coming,'' he says. The Army has upped its vigilance on the LoC to the unprecedented level.


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