August 2002 News

Jammu turns a flashpoint

1 August 2002
The Pioneer
Rahul Datta

New Delhi: A realignment of security forces, including the Army, has commenced in the Jammu division as terrorists have stepped up their activities in this region in the last one month. The change in focus of the counter-insurgency grid was in consonance with the recent Unified Command''s assessment that an increased spurt of militant violence was expected in the Jammu region in the run-up to the forthcoming Assembly polls, sources said here on Thursday. The biggest division of the border State comprising Jammu, Doda, Kishtwar and Rajouri lies south of the Pir Panjal mountain ranges. The terrain is rugged, mountainous with dense forests. The terrorists, mostly belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, are well-trained to traverse through this terrain and live off the land for days together. Moreover, Pakistan has instructed them to whip communal passions in the Jammu division by targetting a particular community, sources said. The division has more or less equal representation of Hindus and Muslims and the militants are determined to divide a wedge by selective killings in far-flung areas. The region is inaccessible due to poor communication infrastructure, including roads and telephone connectivity, it was pointed out. Keeping all these crucial factors in view, the Northern Command is in the process of strengthening and reinforcing the counter-insurgency grid. The coming days would see change in tactics and induction of sophisticated devices to detect infiltration besides arming the troops with lighter bullet-proof jackets and helmets and night vision device fitted AK-47 rifles, sources said. They also pointed out the militants had unleashed violence in the Jammu division following the May 27 speech of Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf where he said there was no cross-border infiltration. The Kaluchak attack on an Army camp, killing of poor people in Kasimnagar, ambush of an Army patrol and the Rajouri incident on Wednesday gave a fair indication of the designs of the terrorists, sources said. The militants had shifted their attention to the Jammu division for two other reasons. The Kashmir Valley, north of the Pir Panjal ranges, was saturated with security forces thereby denying the militants space to move and engineer attacks. The second reason was that they did not want to antagonise the people in the Valley and the ultras wanted to avoid any confrontation in the areas where the second rung of Hurriyat Conference leaders had a strong base, sources said.


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