October 2003 News

LeT Recruitment Down In J&K, Says Terrorist

7 October 2003
The Asian Age

New Delhi: Looking at this wiry and soft-spoken 25-year-old it is hard to believe that he was till recently a dreaded district commander of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba in Doda who used to beat up local youth to force them to join the Laskhar. Four years into the business of terror, he feels recruitment of youth has become harder than ever before owing to the Army's people-friendly operations. Hailing from Faisalabad in Pakistan, Mohd Shahzad says his country is recruiting its own nationals since recruitment from Jammu and Kashmir has come down drastically. 'People are not supporting Pakistani terrorists since the Indian Army has established a rapport with people, especially in Doda. We have to rely on our own men to fill in for the Lashkar and Jaish cadres,' said the first Pakistani militant to be flown into New Delhi since 1997. He added that this year he had not been able to get as many recruits like the previous year. 'The people are cooperating with the Army, because it (the Army) has gotten friendlier with people. It has also initiated developmental schemes.... It was hard to find recruits in Doda area even though we were paying nearly Rs 50,000 in place of Rs 20,000 offered earlier. Local people even inform the Army about where we plant the improvised explosive devices.' Shahzad said regular recruitment rallies are being held across Pakistan in Lahore, Karachi, Sialkot, Bhawalpur, and the PoK. The terrorist, who was captured after a 36-hour-long encounter in Doda, is described as a 'good fighter.' After being told about the atrocities being committed on people in Kashmir and given arms training, he says he was pushed into Kashmir in 2000 to wage jihad. 'But when I came here I knew I had been fed on falsehood. But I had to continue and recruit the youth since there was no way out.' He said the LeT had sent two suicide bombers to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's public rally in Srinagar in April. However, the terrorists had not been able to get past the security cordon. This 25- year-old is unsure about his future. 'I want to return home... but I do not know what is to happen next,' he says.


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