March 2001 News

Centre allows security forces to strike against J&K militants

9 March 2001
The Pioneer
Rahul Datta

New Delhi: The Union Government, in a bid to check the growing levels of violence in Kashmir during the ongoing ceasefire, allowed the security forces to carry out selected pre-emptive strikes against the militants. The security forces, however, were not permitted to conduct large scale operations. Concerned over the heightened morale of the militants to take on the security forces head on, the decision-makers here analysed, over the last two days, the operational problems faced by the men in uniform. The local commanders in the strife-torn State were given some freedom of offensive action and allowed to hit the militant hideouts. But this freedom came with a rider that restraint had to exercised at all costs, sources said here on Friday. Explaining the rationale for a cap on large scale operations and show of force, sources said the Government did not want to alienate the peace-loving citizens of Kashmir. Crackdowns and cordon and search operations used to invite largescale condemnation from the locals and give a chance to the so-called human rights organisations to raise the sensitive issue of human rights violations by the security forces. The security forces were also denied the permission to conduct aggressive patrolling. This basic counter-insurgency drill gives the security forces the chance to dominate the area and deter the militants to dig their heels in and attack the forces, sources said. The officials also discussed the new and more dangerous threat of suicide attacks on the security forces in the last one week. In fact, it was pointed out that the militants had targeted only military targets in the last ten days or so and managed to heavy causalities. The need for top quality intelligence was stressed to meet the challenge of suicide or fidayeen attacks, sources said. The operational commanders informed the Government it was difficult to prevent such attacks when the militants were willing to die. Pin-point intelligence was the only answer to nab or neutralise the suicide attackers before they could come anywhere near the military targets, sources said. The Government was also apprised of the problems to be faced by the security forces during the summer months. Snow in higher reaches of Pir Panjal mountain ranges would start melting in the next forthnight providing ample opportunities to the fresh batch of insurgents to sneak into Kashmir from across the Line of Control (LoC). The security forces were instructed to tackle this phenomenon within the parameters of the ceasefire laid down by the Government, sources said.


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