June 2002 News

Fear drives Hindus out of the hills

16 June 2002
The Hindustan Times

Jammu: Hindus are no longer safe in the hills. Militants have renewed their campaign against them in Jammuís forested hills and are maiming them with the objective of making them to flee to the plains. This suits their agenda to have liberated zones in the hills ó the kinds they have already set up in the upper reaches of Surankote in Poonch and also in Marwah -Dacchan in Doda, the landlocked district north of Jammu . Two massacres of Hindus in less than 24 hours in Doda and Udhampur districts since Saturday afternoon has reinforced the militantsí agenda. They want to capture the hills, set up their bases and run training camps and execute more terror against India. ''Otherwise, what sense does it make to kill children who were returning after a pilgrimage or to kill elderly people in their homes'', asks Vijay Kumar of Doda who migrated here few years ago when widespread violence against the minority community had started in Gandoh. For the militants, the circumstances are in their favour Almost all the troops tasked with counter insurgency operations in these hills were shifted to the borders after the December 13 assault on Parliament. Many more joined them on the LoC and international border after the Kaluchak massacre. This has given the militants a free run of the upper reaches. ''Once they set up themselves in the mountains, it is near impossible to uproot them'', conceded a senior Rashtriya Rifles officer. ''Now they are expanding their area of influence'', noted the senior army officer. Obviously their targets are Hindus and pro-India Muslims whom they suspect of helping security forces. But killing Hindus helps them because the situation has the potential to cause communal trouble ó something they have been trying to achieve and also create a fear psychosis that leads to migration. Army to train civilians to escape blasts In a bid to check civilian casualties in grenade explosions triggered by militants, the army has chalked out a programme to train the locals in tactics to be adopted to escape blasts, a senior army officer said on Sunday. The army, along with civil administration and police, would soon provide necessary guidance to people of the Valley to save them from grenade attacks carried out by militants at crowded places, General Officer Commanding, Victor Force, Maj Gen R.S. Jamwal said.


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