July 2002 News

Lashkar operating under four names

25 July 2002
The Tribune
M. L. Kak

Jammu: During his first visit as Director-General, BSF, to Srinagar today, Mr Ajay Raj Sharma was briefed by senior officers and field commanders on the disturbing trends in the Pakistan-sponsored proxy war in the Kashmir valley. According to official sources, the new DG was informed that the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which continues to be on the top as far as striking power is concerned, had, after being banned by India, the USA and Pakistan, formed four groups under new labels. The group in charge of Srinagar district and its adjoining areas had been christened Al-Madina and the one in south Kashmir, including Anantnag district, Babul Hind Force. For areas in Doda and parts of Udhampur district, Azam Jehad had been floated to step up militancy and in Jammu the task of attacking the security forces and other soft targets had been entrusted with Al-Mansoorian. In Srinagar activists of the Al-Umar and the Hizbul Mujahideen had been enrolled in the Al-Madina. In the rest of the areas, activists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Jash-e-Mohammad and the Hizbul Mujahideen had been found carrying out joint operations against the security forces. Inputs received by government agencies had indicated that the ambush of a BSF camp, in Kulgam area, in which two BSF men were killed yesterday, was the handiwork of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (Babul Hind Force). Since July 19, when the one-month-long annual Amarnath pilgrimage started, militants had attempted targeting yatris on five occasions. Between Khannabal and Pahalgam, they had thrown grenades and planted IEDs. Yesterday, a group of pilgrims had a narrow escape when a grenade hurled by militants near the bus stand exploded a few minutes before the bus carrying pilgrims passed by, the DG was told. A senior BSF officer said since adequate and elaborate security arrangements had been made, militants had, so far, failed to target the yatris but at the same time rebels had not suspended their plan. Another disturbing trend was that the rate of ingress and egress had picked up after a lull of six months. According to state government reports, more than 200 militants, including 100 foreign mercenaries, had crossed into the state from across Kupwara, Poonch and Rajouri in recent weeks. More than 300 to 400 Kashmiri youths had been forced to get themselves enrolled for training across the border. Official reports said 150 Kashmiri youths, most of them belonging to south Kashmir, especially Pulwama district, had been taken to the Poonch border. They were accompanied by a group of 20 militants. The task assigned to them was to help these boys to cross the border. However, tight measures at the LoC prevented this group from crossing the border. Most of them managed to escape back to Pulwama and some were killed. More than six were under interrogation. State government reports said leaders of various militant groups were being regularly contacted on the phone or the wireless by those aiding cross-border terrorism and given directions that they should step up violence to discourage people from going to the polls. By trying to target Amarnath pilgrims, militants wanted to create an impression that their striking capability was intact and separatists who took part in the elections would have to bear the consequences. Official sources said the main plan of Pakistani agencies was to “wreck” the ensuing Assembly poll so that Delhi had to face an embarrassing situation in case the percentage of polling was dismal. In that situation, Pakistani agencies would try to cash on, telling the international community that people in Kashmir wanted plebiscite and not elections.


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