Terrified Doda people apprehend more trouble
25 August 2001
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: Terrified due to the recent killings by militants in Cherji, Tagot and Saroj Dara of Kishtwar Tehsil and gunning down of four persons two each in Chatrnal and Zamandu in Banihal on Thursday, the people in the remote hamlets and upper reaches of Doda district are crying hoarse for beefing up of security measures but to no avail. The terror stricken people of this entire hilly belt apprehend more trouble in future in case the Government shows no determination to flush out the foreign as well as local militants from the liberated higher reaches. According to sources there are about 500 foreign mercenaries and local militants present in the liberated areas in the higher reaches of Simthon Top and Madwa Warwan touching Anantnag district in Kashmir Valley towards East and Banihal in North. The sources said the militants either sneak in Kishtwar via the Daksum track from Anantnag district of North Kashmir or Banihal top which is also linked to Kashmir via Peer Panchal. Sometimes the militants also cross the rivers to sneak into the higher reaches of Paddar, the sources added. Giving further details the sources said the two outfits of militants mostly common in Doda district, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) have intensified their activities from Banihal top and Marwah Warwan, to Dudu Basantgarh in Udhampur district. The sources said that the ''dhoks'' in Paddar including Ishtian, Gandhari, Sambol and Singhpora in Kishtwar, Kibber, Kyod nullah, Ikhala in Chatroo and Dachan, parts of Saroad and Banjwa in Bhaliasa are vulnerable to militants strike. The sources said in Summer when the people take their cattle for pastures in the upper reaches, the militants not only forcibly snatch their foodgrains but also take their sheep and goats on gun point. The shepherds fearing worst do not dare to show any resistance, the sources added. However, the militants restrain from entering the villages where the Government has constituted the Village Defence Committees,(VDCs ) the sources said. Blaming Pakistan for its direct involvement in these killings, the sources said the massacres increased after the failure of Agra summit between Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month. The sources said that even the common man in the district Doda fully understands the gameplan of Pakistan which by the secretarian killings want to communalise the situation in entire Jammu region. But, the people blame the Government for not deploying the adequate number of security forces in the district that has led to recent killings. The situation was under control before the Kargil war but it deteriorated after the shifting two battalions, one of Rashtriya Rifles and another of 8 ADA from the Doda district. They not only had crushed the militants but performed great role in maintaining peace. Terming the shifting of two battalions of security forces during the Kargil war a mistake, the Bharatiya Janata Party state chief Mr Daya Krishan Kotwal said this provided a breathing chance to militants to regroup and intensify their activities in the district. There are only three Battalions of the security forces manning the district, said Mr Anil Parihar a BJP leader from Kishtwar. These include two of army and one of CRPF, he added. Welcoming the Government for declaring the Doda along with other districts of Jammu as disturbed area, he also demanded that Doda Scouts on the pattern of Ladakh Scouts be constituted by employing the local youth in it. This Mr Parihar said it will help in containing militancy as the local youth who are familiar with the topography of the district can chase the militants to their finish. Besides it will solve the growing unemployment problem in the district, he added. Favouring the constitution of Doda scouts, Mr Kotwal said this is a genuine demand which can yield good results if SPOs and VDC members are engaged in it. Mr Naranjan Sharma, president Hindu Raksha Samiti district Doda while strongly advocating for the constitution of the Doda Scouts said this step will surly help in restoring the shattered confidence of the people in administration. These views were also echoed by Munshi Ram Rathore and Sunil Sharma of Kishtwar who also strongly advocated for constitution of more VDCs in the district and supply of sophisticated arms to them.