India Says Militants Waiting In Many Kashmir Camps
3 August 2005
New Delhi: India said on Wednesday Muslim militants were waiting in a large number of camps in Pakistani Kashmir to sneak across a ceasefire line into Indian Kashmir. 'Recent reports indicate a large number of launching camps along the Line of Control (LoC) have been activated where militants have been kept in readiness for infiltration,' Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the upper house of parliament. Mukherjee's statement came despite assurances from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf last week in response to Indian concerns about militant camps, when he said the 'situation is on the mend'. Last month, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the 'infrastructure of terror' in Pakistani Kashmir remained intact, despite a 20-month-old peace process between the subcontinental rivals. Mukherjee's comments were a sign of India's growing concern about violence in Kashmir. Indian figures show that in the first half of 2005, 463 militants were killed in Kashmir, against 495 in the same period of 2004. But the Indian army reported a spike in militant infiltration last month, when it said it killed dozens of militants trying to cross the ceasefire line. Analysts say the violence, which has included high-profile bomb attacks and raids in Srinagar, summer capital of Indian Kashmir, has contradicted past comments by Indian officials that militants were on the back foot and infiltration down. 'Whatever may be the official spin...the militants have dramatically registered their formidable presence in the state,' columnist Harish Khare wrote in The Hindu newspaper. 'If the last few weeks are any indication, the security forces are barely able to contain the militants.' Rivalry over Kashmir has caused two of the three wars between India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947 and more than 45,000 people have died in a rebellion against Indian rule in the mainly Muslim region since 1989. In fresh violence on Wednesday, one guerrilla and a soldier were killed in a gunbattle in Indian Kashmir, while unidentified gunmen shot dead two civilians. Pakistan denies arming militants in Kashmir, but says it gives moral and political support to Kashmiri freedom fighters. Last week, Musharraf said the peace process would continue and recent rhetoric gave a wrong impression that relations between India and Pakistan were cooling. He said he expected to meet Singh in New York in September, when both leaders are due to attend the U.N. General Assembly and he reiterated an invitation for the Indian leader to visit Pakistan before that.