April 2002 News

Ultras maintain links with Pak agencies

15 April 2002
The Tribune

JAMMU: Has the withdrawal of ISD and STD facilities from PCOs and the snapping of Internet connections in Jammu and Kashmir severed the communication links between agencies across the border and militants active in the state? A snap survey conducted by TNS has revealed that despite these steps, militants operating in the state continue to maintain their communication channels with their patrons across the LoC. The interception of a series of wireless and telephonic messages indicate that the militants are equipped with latest wireless sets and satellite phones to maintain links with agencies in Pakistan. Sleuths of different security and intelligence agencies have been given the task of intercepting these messages. The latest message intercepted by a security agency, according to a Defence Ministry spokesman, is a proof of the gadgets available with separatists. The message reads: "Though our colleagues carry out actions, we do not claim responsibility for them. This discourages our colleagues." This message was sent by a field commander of a rebel out fit across the border. Quick was the reply: "Since our enemy (Indian Government) says that actions are carried out by us, there is no need to take: responsibility." The field commander replied: "If you permit, we may consider claiming the responsibility for our actions through the local media." The voice from the other side of the border said: "I will announce a policy soon in which I will .state what is to be done." Earlier, an intercepted message sent soon after the terrorist strike on Raghunath temple in Jammu, said: "Do not claim responsibility for strikes on shrines and places of worship as it would force us to lose the support of the people." Last month, a commander of the Laskhar-e-Toiba based in Pakistan occupied Kashmir had sent a message to his field commanders in Kashmir, saying: "We have to change the present situation which has been continuing for sometime. Mistakes committed by a few jehadis affect the spirit of jehad. We have to find reasons for such mistakes." The message further said: "All colleagues should meet commanders and accept their mistakes. They should accept that they have misused funds and ill-treated civilians," It directed them to shun such practices. A senior police officer who has been engaged in supervising anti-insurgency operations in Doda district, south Kashmir and other areas for the past 10 years, said militants had been provided with highly sophisticated wireless sets whose range was larger than the sets available with the police. He said when militancy took root in Kashmir, militants had small wireless sets of the design of walkie-talkies and their range was a few km. Over the years, Pakistani agencies have supplied them latest models of wireless sets, satellite phones and laptops. After the discontinuation of Internet facilities in the state, the laptops have become non-functional. The officer said the telephone links from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan, including PoK, had been snapped long ago. However, whenever any agency wants to talk to a militant leader, the particular number is dialled from any area of Pakistan and PoK. Also some separatists have been successful in talking on the phone through teleconferences. Since these separatists have enough funds, they have managed to book some PCO owners outside the state through whom they carry out teleconferences. The survey has revealed that the discontinuation of STD and ISD facilities at PCOs had proved to be irksome for the common people, especially businessmen. While the 5,000 PCO and 4,000 cyber cafe owners are suffering a loss of about Rs 20 crore per month, the telecommunication circle in the state is facing a loss of over 12 lakh per day. The discontinuation of STD and ISD facilities has been in force in the state for the past three months. But it has had no impact on ISI functionaries. Police sources said the functionaries sent wireless messages to their sources directing them to be available on a particular telephone. Within half an hour, the ISI is connected with the source in any part of Jammu and Kashmir.


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