June 2002 News

Al-Qaida elements in PoK: Army

26 June 2002
The Tribune

NEW DELHI: Despite Defence Minister George Fernandes announcing last week that infiltration from across the border has almost stopped, latest intelligence information collated by the Army here reflects a picture contrary to the claims of the political leadership in South Block. The Army authorities are perturbed with senior ministers making announcements when the fall in the level of infiltration along the Line of Control (LoC) can at best be described as "negligible and inconsequential". To top it all, the presence of al-Qaida elements is increasing at strategic spots across the border in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Intelligence inputs contradict Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf's claims that communication stations operating from PoK have been shut down and that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is no longer providing support to the terrorist organisations wanting to create trouble in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is still operating training camps for militants in various parts of PoK. The only difference is that those getting training have been asked to disguise themselves as locals and mingle with them. Besides, Pakistani army officers providing the training have also been asked to be in disguise and act as village heads. Highly placed sources here have disclosed that there has been a negligible fall in infiltration from across the border and there has been no decrease either in the number of killings in Jammu and Kashmir or in the number of incidents in the state. Since January this year, the Army has killed about 850 terrorists, which is a 25 per cent increase in their number over the corresponding period last year. This, the sources have said, has also brought to the fore the fact that infiltration has actually been stepped up, considering the increase in the number of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists having been killed. Intelligence reports suggest that there are still about 3000-odd trained militants waiting along the LoC to cross over into India. There is apparent concentration of terrorists at various spots along the border. The terrorists are mainly concentrated in the areas of Muzaffarabad, in the region opposite Poonch and in the areas of New Mirpur and Kharian on the Pakistani side of the LoC. Sources have said that Pakistan is still operating over a 150 training camps in these regions and contrary to its claims, a large number of 'communication stations' continue to be under use. Intercepts by the Army point out that all communication stations in Zaffarwal, Samani, Nikial, Kahuta, Kel and Tejian are still operating. The intercepts draw attention to ISI operatives of the terrorist . groups passing on instructions to their cadres in Jammu and Kashmir from these stations. The instructions are for terrorists to lie low for some time. But none of the communication stations have been dismantled. Reports have also suggested that the presence of the al-Qaida cadres has been steadily increasing at various points along the LoC. The ISI authorities have been diverting the incoming al-Qaida cadres to the north of the border, rather than bringing them towards Muzaffarabad. The al-Qaida concentration has been detected in the region of Gultari, Skardu and Kel regions, where 200 to 300 terrorists have been suspected to be in hiding. The al-Qaida presence has also been detected in the region opposite Poonch, where 75 to 100 cadres are said to be in hiding. Sources say although there is no physical contact with the al-Qaida cadres at present, they are waiting to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir at the first possible chance along with other terrorists.


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