Forces to target truce spoilers
26 February 2001
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Government said on Monday it would carry out strikes against hardline militant groups trying to derail its ceasefire in Kashmir through attacks on civilians or security personnel. It was the clearest indication yet that India is prepared to operate outside the strict confines of its three-month-old suspension of hostilities in Kashmir. "Based on facts and hard intelligence, the security forces will plan and execute strikes against those who have plans to destabilise the ongoing ceasefire," a senior defence ministry official told Reuters. "The terrorist groups that want to destabilise the ceasefire definitely include Laskhar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad," said the official, who asked not to be named. Both outfits are based in Pakistan, which India accuses of sponsoring the 11-year-old insurgency in Kashmir. India launched a unilateral initiative last November under which, it said, its forces would not initiate offensive operations against separatist militants battling it in Kashmir. But a series of daring attacks against Indian security forces and installations triggered calls for the government to ensure militants did not exploit its ceasefire in order to consolidate their forces. Last week Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announced the ceasefire would run until the end of May. It had already twice been extended, for a month each time. Vajpayee said in his announcement that security forces had clear instructions to "act decisively" against anyone planning violence or acts of terrorism. But he stopped short of naming militant groups or saying the security forces would plan and execute strike against them.