June 2002 News

No drop in infiltration

5 June 2002
The Times of India
Manoj Joshi

Jammu: Whatever be the commitments Gen Pervez Musharraf has given on stopping cross-border infiltration, figures available with the government indicate there has been little or no change in the activity along the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary in Jammu and Kashmir. Nor has there been any discernible sign that training camps of terrorists, relocated to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) after Musharraf’s January 12 speech, have been shut down. Actually, the figures indicate that there was a dip in cross-border movement in February and March, but thereafter the pace of activity increased. While the government believes the numbers of groups trying to get through remains roughly similar to previous years, the number of terrorists killed while crossing the border has gone up sharply this year, reflecting the heightened vigilance of the security forces. Officials say it would take them at least a fortnight to assess whether or not Musharraf’s reported order to plug the LoC against infiltration is being implemented on the ground. According to a senior officer, there are several ways to assess this on the basis of actual encounters on the border; through interrogation of infiltrators; and by intercepting radio communications. Intelligence officials say there is no discernible change in the nature of intercepts of conversations between the terrorists and their controllers in Pakistan. ‘‘Anyway, what we pick up is low-grade VHF conversations, not the high-grade High Frequency (HF) transmissions that are encrypted and sent through sophisticated burst-communications sets,’’ says the official. The VHF is more in the nature of walkie-talkie sets which use repeaters to communicate with the control centres in Muzaffarabad. The HF sets, on the other hand, are used by the terrorist leadership and are extremely difficult to detect. Intelligence agencies say there are currently some 3,000 militants in the training camps in PoK. They say that the bulk of the camps belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Al-Badr, are located around Muzaffarabad. ‘‘This is so that they can be better protected against any possible Indian commando or air strike,’’ says an official familiar with the subject. Clustered nearby each other, they provide protection to each other. The presence of strong Pakistani air defence and army units protecting Muzaffarabad also acts as a deterrent.


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