1,500 boys went to PoK for training
6 December 2001
The Times of India
M SALEEM PANDIT
SRINAGAR: Around 1,500 boys aged between 13 and 20 years crossed the Line of Control to acquire training in arms in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) this year, according to a senior intelligence officer. Experts are attributing this to vigorous efforts by Pakistan-based militant outfits to prove that militancy in Kashmir is an indigenous movement. Mostly from north Kashmir, these boys are easy prey for the Jaish-e- Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, militant organisations which have hideouts in the thickly forested north Kashmir. According to intelligence sources, 5,000 boys have reportedly been stranded in PoK training camps for the past five years. But across the border, things are not much better. September 11 has inspired a cult of heroism by death and lack of employment opportunities has meant that the Rs 5,000 offered by foreign militants to cross over to PoK is an attractive proposition. Angered at these efforts by the Jaish and Lashkar, leaders of the Hizbul Mujahideen had last month said foreign militant organisations should submit to their control. But this did not go down very well with the Hizbul supreme commander Syed Salahuddin who not only distanced himself from the statement but also replaced the local commanders. Ironically, though, the common people seem to prefer the foreign militants to their local counterparts. Not only are they offered money for food and shelter, they are also sure information will not be leaked to the police.