September 2003 News

Pak Providing Supplies To Kathua Militants

6 September 2003
The Times of India

Kathua: Pakistan's security and intelligence services appear to have opened one or more supply lines to sustain the militants fighting against the security forces in Kathua district's dense forests, senior Indian security officials were quoted as saying on Saturday. With the on and off encounter with militants entering the fifth day, the ground assessment here is that there are more militants than originally estimated. Officials coordinating the security operation here said that the number appeared to be more than seven. In another reassessment of the situation, officials said that though they had earlier claimed that the militants were encircled, it now appears that the terrain over the 3 sq km area with six feet high maize crop, has enabled the opening up of ammunition and food supply routes from the Pakistani side. 'They are getting ordnance replenishments from Pakistan,' remarked an Indian operations officer. Meanwhile, commenting on the nature of the militant's mission, Indian officials said that this was no ordinary infiltration. 'It is becoming clear that they came with a mission to establish beachheads and posts in Kathua, which they would then use to attack small villages which dot this district,' said one source. It was an alert villager who spotted the militants and informed the Rajbagh police station, 18 km from Kathua town. The local police after assessing the situation radioed Jammu for help. Meanwhile, field officials are not relaxing their guard during a lull in firing. The memories of the Tanda camp killings are fresh in their minds. Senior army officials, who had come to visit the camp after a fidayeen strike, were attacked. It was thought that all the militants had been killed and the area was secure. Officials said that the Kathua operation would take more time to resolve as it was being sustained from Pakistan. When asked if the supply line could also include men apart from food and arms, the sources said it was possible. A senior security officer remarked, 'There is a larger Pakistan game plan to the Kathua encounter and we will get to the bottom of it whatever time it takes.'


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