Army to target top militants in Kashmir
28 August 2001
The Indian Express
Doda: In a bid to counter the growing attacks of foreign mercenaries in the Doda district of Jammu region, the army will launch ''surgical operation'', under which the emphasis will be on targeting the top militant leaders. ''We will soon launch surgical operations to eliminate foreign mercenaries, and their commanders in particular, and other militants in general across this mountain-locked woodland'', Sector Commander, Brigadier G.D. Bakshi, said during a ''situation assessment'' media tour. A plan has been devised to singularly target the top leaders of foreign mercenaries under a special mission apart from normal counter-insurgency operations, Bakshi said, adding ''we will strike at their roots now and pin them down''. Specialised troops will be assigned the job of information gathering, networking, planning and striking these outfits, Bakshi said, adding ''about 70 per cent of the total militant strength comprises of foreign mercenaries''. The foreign mercenary outfits are active in the Doda hills, particularly Kishtwar belt, which shares its boundaries with Anantnag district of Kashmir Valley, Kargil area of Ladakh district, Udhampur district, Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh and Kathua district, Bakshi said. This is why Doda has emerged as the ''launching pad'' of militancy, he said. Whenever there is pressure on the militants in any of these areas, they swiftly use passes to shift and take refuge in Kishtwar belt which comprises of steep gradient, forests and rocky ridges ranging from 3000 meters to 5000 meters, Bakshi said. The militants also resort to selective killing of minorities in unprotected areas, mostly highland ''dhoks'' (grazing grounds), and scattered minority villages on different mountain cliffs to pressure on security forces, he said. For the sake of safety and security, minorities have been asked to remain within the limits of protective umbrella of Village Defence Committees (VDCs) and Special Police Officers (SPOs), he said, adding all those who have gone up in meadows have been asked to return.