June 2001 News

Army plans Special Commando Force

3 June 2001
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Srinagar: THE ARMY is planning to raise a special commando force of its own on the pattern of the National Security Guards and train them to flush out militants from mosques and shrines in Jammu and Kashmir. The need for such a force arose after security forces decided to withdraw a cordon around a village mosque in south Kashmir early this week. The Army had failed to get the locals to persuade the foreign militants to vacate the mosque. Army commanders had decided to withdraw the cordon because storming the mosque could have resulted in casualties and also damaged the place of worship. The Army attributed the withdrawal to "local law and order problem that could be dealt locally." This has created dangerous new situations. The Army fears that militants could occupy mosques. To counter that, it was suggested to have either a unit of the NSG in Kashmir or an elite unit of the Army. Sources said the Army favoured the second suggestion. "Now there are dangers of a repeat of the Hazratbal and Charar-e-Sharief incidents and we will have to be prepared for that kind of emergency," said a BSF official. The ongoing peace talks in Kashmir were another reason why the Army decided to opt for the safer option and withdrew its cordon. Chief negotiator K C Pant has been talking to people and leaders of various parties to elicit their views on the situation. But, however good intentioned the decision, those who formulated it have obviously ignored the long-term dangers. The State Government has not taken into account how in 1996, the security forces were allowed to flush out militants when they attempted to re-enter the Hazratbal shrine a contrast to the safe passage that was given to militants at the same shrine in Oct-Nov 1993.


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