November 2001 News

Lack of hi-tech weapons worries army in Kashmir

15 November 2001
The Pioneer
Rahul Datta

New Delhi: The security forces are yet to get world class counter-insurgency equipment including weapons to combat terrorism in Kashmir despite the Government sanctioning Rs 400 crores for the acquisitions. This delay is worrying the operational commanders all the more due to developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They fear violence will increase in Kashmir in the coming months with the Pakistan junta diverting funds to the so-called jehadis to sustain terrorism and maintain pressure on the security forces, sources said here on Thursday. Appreciating the fact that the security forces lacked counter insurgency equipment, the top political leadership sanctioned Rs 400 crores soon after the incident at the Jammu railway station three months ago. This extraordinary grant was then seen as a major step towards fighting insurgency in the border State. The preliminary steps for purchasing this equipment including better quality of AK-47 rifles, night vision devices and electronic sensors, however, were yet to be initiated, it was learnt. The Government had, earlier, also cleared the proposal to go in for unmanned aerial vehicles(UAV) and advanced sensors to detect infiltration. Those proposals were also confined to the files. Expecting no let up in Pakistan''s stand on J&K and fomenting terrorism there, sources said groups like Jaish-e- Mohammad, Al Badr and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen will carry out more desperate acts in the State. Explaining the rationale for this, officials handling the Kashmir situation said Pakistan will now fund these terrorist groups. They were earlier getting finances and weapons from the Taliban but had their headquarters and training camps in Pakistan. The emerging scenario will see Pakistan getting a better control over these groups as they cannot survive without Pakistan''s patronage, sources said. The determined ultras, however, will target the security forces in J&K to avoid any international condemnation. Pakistan will then stick to its stance that the troubled State is facing a freedom movement. The forthcoming Army Commanders Conference here next week will see the J&K issue and slow progress in the acquisition of weapons topping the agenda. The Army is facing the brunt of terrorism in Kashmir alongwith the paramilitary forces including BSF CRPF and the J&K police. Scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Vajpayee, the conference is also likely to draw the attention of the political leadership in the delay in acquiring T-90 tanks, Smerch artillery systems and upgrading the 133mm artillery gun to 155mm and weapon locating radars. India signed a deal with Russia to purchase and subsequently manufacture 300 T-90 tanks. The first batch of more than 80 tanks is expected to arrive here by the end of this year. Sources, however, said Pakistan has already acquired the full complement of 300 T-80 tanks and India can only expect to restore the balance by year 2003 end. Pakistan also has an upper hand in mountain warfare with its army equipped with the US manufactured weapon locating radars. In fact, this radar proved lethal for the Indian troops during the Kargil War.


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