Huge terrorist influx worries J&K authorities
12 August 2004
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: The ranks of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir have swelled in the past four months, worrying authorities, as more and more local youths are found to be joining groups, say security officials. 'The worrying part of this revival in separatist activities is that local youths have again started joining the militant ranks though their numbers are far fewer than those in the early 1990s,' a senior security official told IANS. Adding to the worries of security agencies are intelligence reports that indicate most recent attacks using grenades and improvised explosive devices as well as strikes on 'soft unprotected targets' were carried out by local Kashmiri guerrillas. 'It has surprised us to learn that the new brand of local militants is not even trained properly in handling firearms. They are just given weapons and information about the targets,' said an intelligence official. 'They are simply told to shoot straight and vanish in the resulting confusion,' he added. When an armed separatist movement erupted in the Kashmir Valley in 1989, all guerrilla groups consisted solely of Kashmiri youths who were trained in camps across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan. By the mid-1990s, many guerrillas from Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir as well as smaller numbers of mujahideen from countries like Sudan and Egypt that had sneaked across LoC were at the forefront of terrorist strikes. The number of foreigners fell by the late 1990s and intelligence officials now believe only Pakistanis and some Afghans continue to operate with Pakistan-based groups like the Lashker-e- Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. But security officials say the fact that fresh Kashmiri guerrillas had not been fully trained does not mean they lack the determination to fight. 'In fact it is much easier to motivate the comparatively less trained local militants to become fidayeen (suicide attackers) as they work alongside toughened foreign militants who become role models for the young and inexperienced local youth,' a senior army officer said. A lone fidayeen guerrilla who killed nine paramilitary troopers during a strike in Rajbagh in the heart of summer capital Srinagar last week was identified as a Kashmiri youth. 'Whether it is the foreign militants or the local militants, once trapped in a desperate situation, they simply fight to the last man. There have been no surrenders during recent months,' said an intelligence officer. 'We also have information about the return of many local militants who had gone across the LoC four years ago,' he said. With reports of heavy infiltration of guerrillas in the past two months and intelligence inputs that many local Kashmiris have joined the separatist groups, the authorities are working overtime to ensure that there is no major terrorist strike either before or during the Independence Day celebration. But even if official functions pass off peacefully on August 15, the coming months are going to be tough for security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, said officials.