Ultras plan to target political leaders in run up to polls
26 July 2002
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: In the run-up to the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistani backed militant groups are preparing to trigger large scale violence targeting political leaders and workers even as 500 Al Qaeda cadres lie in wait to cross over to Kashmir valley. The sinister new plans of the militant groups to carry out subversive activities came to light from radio intercepts of conversations among militant groups, a day ahead of the visit to the sub-continent by US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Army officials here said the Al Qaeda and Taliban cadres were among the 2,000 militants who have been concentrated close to Line of Control on the PoK side. Officials said Amaranth yatra and Independence Day celebrations were also planned to be targetted. Contrary to the pledge to stop cross-border terrorism by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in his May 27 address, radio communication among the militant groups revealed militant commanders in PoK giving orders to its cadres in the Valley to execute ''big actions'' in August. The common refrain in all the intercepted messages was to disrupt the elections with one of the messages warning, ''Hizbul Mujahideen Ne Elan Kiya Hai Jo Bhi Shakas Namniyad Election Main Hissa Lega Usko Maut Ki Ghat Utar Diya Jeyege'' (Hizbul Mujahideen has warned that anybody participating in the forthcoming elections would be killed). The sinister anti-election message which was broadcast live over clandestine militant radio based in PoK also mentioned that the recent killings of Sarpanchs in Doda and Bhaderwah areas had been carried out to hold out threats to the people to stay away from the polls. In the radio messages, the Pakistan-based commanders have told their cadres to target political workers of all hues at regular intervals to cause a scare among them. The militant concentrations across the border, which had thinned out in the wake of Musharraf’s broadcast, have started massing again, with army sources saying that about 1,500 Lashkar, Jaish and Hizbul cadres were now grouped near the Line of Control and another 500 Al Qaeda and Taliban militants at Gultari and Mini-Marg areas of northern area. The militant camps are being resurrected all over PoK areas, army sources pointed out while saying that till date Pakistan had made as many as six attempts to sneak in the militant groups. ''These are attempts which were repulsed. But for every foiled efforts, at least three other succeed,'' they said. The militants have recently been equipped with 300 to 400 hi-tech satellite phones procured from China making it diffcult to intercept them, they said. The army sources rubbished Islamabad’s recent charge that New Delhi had flown some Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners from northern Afghanistan to India. They said Pakistan had levelled the charge to pre-empt possibilites of Indian forces killing or capturing Al Qaeda and Taliban if they sneak into Kashmir valley. The sources pointed out that support of the Pakistan army to militants remained at the same level as of before May 27, with the militants getting support of Pakistan artillery and gunfire during their infiltration bids. The new band of militants, mostly Pakistani and Afghan nationals, who were now attempting to infiltrate into Kashmir, were very heavily armed, army officials said. They pointed out that in one of the recent bids foiled south of the Pir Panjal range, army had recovered 20 rockets from such a small group. They said new infiltrating groups were carrying eatables from Lahore and Islamabad indicating that their local support was fast dwindling. They pointed out that the tip-off about the militants being holed up in a mosque in Banihal on the Jammu- Srinagar highway had come from local sources. The army officials said the number of civilian casualties in the Valley had been intentionally exaggerated by Pakistani leaders and media. They said Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, in his address to the United Nations in September 2000, had claimed that 70,000 civilians had been killed in Jammu and Kashmir, while the Pakistani daily ‘Jang’ had put the figure at 75,000 a year later and on July this year the self-styled United Jehad Council had put the number at 90,000. An analysis, the officials pointed out would put the number of civilians killed during the last years as 20,000, which meant that almost 900 civilians were killed a month and about 30 per day. Releasing figures supplied by police and Jammu and Kashmir adminstration, officials said the number of civilians killed since 1990 was 12,817. Besides this, they said another 25,000 militants had been killed and most of them were of Pakistani origin.