November 2005 News

Youth join mission to rid Pir Panchal of militants

24 November 2005
The Hindu
Luv Puri

Bafliaz (Surankote): Bafliaz (Surankote): After ridding the vast Hill Kaka tract of of militants two years ago, hill men of Kulali village in Surankote tehsil of Poonch district have joined yet another hazardous mission. They are working to make the areas around the proposed Mughal Road militancy-free at an altitude of 11,500 feet. The route, frequented by Mughals centuries ago, has become a haven for terrorists for the past 15 years. A number of times the State Government intended opening the road but the security agencies shot down the proposal saying it was a militant-infested belt. Security officers point out that Lashkar-e-Taiba men are noticed mostly to the south of Pir Panchal and the Hizb ul-Mujahideen has a presence to its north. Militants object to road laying in far-flung areas as it facilitates troop movement. The 83.9 km road linking Bafliaz to Shopian is expected to be completed in three years at a cost of Rs. 255 crores. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a provision of Rs. 160 crores for its construction. During the current financial year Rs. 50 crores would be spent. Though work on Mughal Road started in April with the setting up of engineering headquarters at Bafliaz to the south of Pir Panchal and Shopian to the north of Pir Panchal, the job is not easy as the battle against terrorism is far from over in this belt. A review was conducted a few days ago by Jammu and Kashmir Minister of State for Roads and Buildings Gulchain Singh Charak, who visited Bafliaz. The vulnerable stretch starts right from Bafliaz (28 km from Poonch) and extends to Chandimarh, Dugran, Pir Panchal Pass, Ghund, Aliabad Saria, Sukh Saria, Hirpura and Shopian. The group of locals, which led the Hill Kaka operations in 2003, has accepted the challenge to eliminate militancy in the Pir Panchal heights along Mughal Road. This reporter joined these youth for a day as they patrolled the areas around the road. 'Though we have liberated our areas from the militants, it is also important to end militancy around Mughal Road. This is due to the proximity of this belt to our areas and also its importance for economic development,' says Mushtaq Ahmed, a local working as a special police officer. Commanders Taj Pahalwan of the Hizb ul-Mujahideen and Abu Katal of the Lashkar have provided resources and guides to the new group of militants, it is said. On October 31, security agencies claimed to have eliminated Taj Pahalwan but the report proved false.


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