Post-attack, Kashmiri militants lie low
16 September 2001
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: Militants operating in the Kashmir Valley have restricted their activities since Tuesday''s devastating strikes on the Pentagon and the twin towers of the World Trade Center. There have been reports of subdued militant attacks on security forces in the past three days. Earlier, before the strikes occurred, militants used to carry two or three attacks daily on security forces. Sources said that over two dozen militants were killed since Tuesday in encounters and operations initiated by security forces. The fear that any major strike or suicide attack could evoke international sympathy towards India like America has prompted the militants to lie low. The militants are wary of the fact that in the wake of Tuesday''s attacks, India may be able to convince the US and western nations that militancy in Kashmir is linked to international terrorism. ''It appears that they (militants) have been told to lie low for the time being'', the sources said. America''s pointed reference to Osama bin Laden''s involvement in the attacks and repeated assertion that it would treat the attackers and harbourers alike, too, has unnerved them. They fear that along with Afghanistan, Pakistan could become the target of American wrath if Osama''s hand was established. The sources said that the militants have been asked by their higher-ups to adopt a wait and watch policy for some time. The Lashkar-e- Tayyeba''s repeated statements that it has never targeted innocent people and its area of activities was confined to India can be viewed in this backdrop. However, security forces, seizing the opportunity, seem to have unleashed an all out campaign against militants and in the past three days have killed 27 of them. ''We have not lowered our guards'', said a senior security official, ''and are after them''. He admitted that once the shadow of the US threat on Pakistan cleared, the militants could resort to some major strike. ''We won''t allow them to gather courage for that'', he said. Senior security officials said the armed forces along the Line of Control in Kashmir have been put on high alert. Security forces in the plains, too, have been asked to maintain extra vigil. ''We are not leaving anything to chance'', said a police officer. ''We have tightened security around vital installations and security formations,'' he said.