March 2001 News

Ceasefire not going down too well with Army commanders

6 March 2001
The Hindustan Times

New Delhi: The spurt in militant attacks on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir has sparked off a debate on the ceasefire within the military establishment. According to government sources, formation commanders in Kashmir are now openly expressing apprehension on continuing with the ceasefire. This has forced the Army brass here to deliberate on the merits of the ceasefire. One such review of the Kashmir situation took place in South Block on Monday. A section of the military establishment feels that the Army should be allowed to observe the ceasefire rules only with regard to those groups who are interested in promoting peace in Kashmir. In the case of groups such as the Laskhar-e-Tayyeba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, it is felt that Army should be allowed to resume counter operations. The formation commanders in Kashmir are also understood to have conveyed the same to the Army brass: that the ceasefire will not yield results if immediate steps were not taken to counter the jehadi agenda. Their argument is that no militant group comes to the negotiating table unless put under pressure. With Pakistan continuing to support cross-border terrorism despite the truce, the political and military benefits of the peace initiative appear to be few and far between. The ambush of Brigadier Bikram Singh and Colonel J P Janu's convoy in Anantnag, the killing of 17 police personnel in Rajouri and the attacks on Army camps in Baramulla and Poonch, show that militants have been able to mount a coordinated operation on the security forces. The audacity of the attacks also reveals that the morale of the militants, who have infiltrated the State in large numbers, is very high. In the Anantnag incident, there also appears to be a measure of laxity on the part of the security forces as Brigadier Singh and Col Janu were fired upon by a militant disguised as a beggar. Col Janu, who was hit by seven bullets, died on the spot, while Brigadier Singh was grievously injured after being hit four times. The question now being asked is how the "beggar" was allowed to sit near the road despite the area having been screened by road opening parties. After the ceasefire came into effect, security forces have stopped cordon and search operations and frisking of civilians in public. Had the "beggar" been frisked, Col. Janu would perhaps have been alive today. The systematic elimination of those giving information to the security forces about movements of militants has also caused concerned. While the Army claims that it has strengthened its surveillance grid, intelligence inputs do not substantiate the claim.


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