September 2003 News

'Ultras' Bid To Avenge Gazi Baba's Death Suits Army'

15 September 2003
The Pioneer

New Delhi: The killing of Gazi Baba by security forces has made the militants desperate and forced them to come overground thereby making the Army's job easier to hunt them down. Attributing the recent spurt in terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir to turmoil in the militant ranks caused by the killing of the Jaish top commander Gazi Baba, the Army said on Monday the security forces had accounted for more than 60 ultras in the last fortnight. 'There was a loss of confidence amongst the various militant groups and their morale was also definitely down. This forced them to carry out desperate terrorist attack in a bid to reinforce their writ,' Additional Director-General Army Public Information Major-General Deepak Sumanawar told reporters. He said the Army was prepared to take the militants on and in fact this situation suited the security forces. Elaborating upon this, he said the militants were now resurfacing to engineer attacks and the Army could easily hunt them. Earlier, the security forces had to carry out tedious and time-consuming seek-and- destroy missions against the militants. Major-General Sumanwar said most of the 60 militants killed since September 1 were Pakistani mercenaries and included Lashkar-e-Toiba commanders of Banihal, Pulwama and Poonch. Replying to question if Operation Sarp Vinash to flush out militants from the remote areas of Poonch and Doda was still on, the officer said anti-terrorist operations were continuing. He added as and when the Army got information about the presence of militants, operations were carried out in Hill Kaka and other regions. Admitting that the killing of militant-turned- politician Kuka Parray last week was a great loss to the Army, he said Parray was a great motivator to wean away locals from militancy and took a number of steps for their rehabilitation. He, however, clarified that the Army had nothing to do with Parray's security, saying the slain leader had his own security personnel, besides State police cover. Denying reports that the Army had failed to nab seven militants in the nearly week-long operation in Kathua, he said the security forces managed to thwart any effort by these ultras to carry out any attacks. Major General Sumanwar also said the operation was a 'handover from the State police,' but asserted that though the terrain and weather may have contributed to the escape of the terrorists, the Army had managed to neutralise them and prevented undertaking of any task assigned to them from across the border. He also said the Army had decided to sponsor the education of 101 children affected by terrorism by enrolling them in the Army Public School in Beas near Jalandhar. All these children including girls would be provided free lodging and education till they pass out from the school. Union Defence Minister George Fernandes will formally inaugurate this pilot project on Wednesday. Based on the success of this project, the Army could launch similar schemes in the North-East, he added.


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