IB Blames 'slack' BSF For Infiltration

11 May 2008
Times Internet Limited

New Delhi: Intelligence Bureau has blamed the renewed infiltration - which saw jehadis belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba taking hostages on Sunday - on the dip in the alertness of Border Security Force during the five-year-long restraint observed by Pakistan. In a report to the Centre, the IB has clearly mentioned that the infiltrators, suspected to belong to LeT, sought to exploit the complacency that has crept into the BSF. The IB operatives, based on intercepts, also warned of more attempts by jehadis who have gathered at different points along the border to sneak in. The report attributes Sunday's hostage-taking to the desperation of the gang who found themselves trapped. Samba used to be on the live route for infiltrators till the BSF sealed the routes. From there, the jehadis would set off for 'targets' in Doda, Bhaderwah and elsewhere. It is fairly common for security forces engaged in counter-terrorism operations to lower their guard during periods of lull. What is also common is that terrorists seek to exploit the vulnerability. The Lashkar gangs are seeking to do precisely that at places like Keran, Machal, Uri and Boniyar. Meanwhile, the stepped up infiltration bids are sure to raise questions about Pakistan's willingness to persist with the pattern when it stopped providing fire cover to terrorists trying to cross over into India. 'The civilian authority may not have the same leverage with the armed forces. They are also more sensitive to the opinion on the street which continues to back the liberation of Kashmir. But it will be premature to derive drastic conclusions from a couple of incidents,' said a senior security source. In any case, with J&K getting ready to welcome nearly three lakh pilgrims for the Amarnath yatra from next month, security agencies fear more Samba-like terrorist operations in the state, particularly in areas close to the route of the pilgrimage. Though the Samba attack appeared to be a direct fallout of the infiltration which took place on Thursday, officials, getting inputs from the state, believe that the militant operation on Sunday was just the beginning of a grand plan of terrorist outfits to make their presence felt before the forthcoming assembly elections and the yatra would provide them an opportunity to strike at easy targets. Referring to intercepts which the agencies had during the past month, sources in the CRPF - which is the main counter-insurgency force in the state - said that the outfits were desperate to strengthen their cadres through infiltration. Currently, all the outfits together have nearly 1,200 jehadis in the state and this is half of what they had in 2006. Melting of ice during summer would provide them a chance to infiltrate through the unfenced LoC, sources added. 'Infiltration through the fenced international border in Samba sector shows the desperation of militant outfits which generally prefer LoC to sneak into the state,' a senior BSF official said. He added that the terrorists were also desperate to alter the impression of 'relative peace and declining infiltration' in the state by making some big strikes. As compared to 343 infiltrations in 2006, the state had witnessed 311 such movements in 2007, the official said. Fearing more disturbances in the coming months, the Centre has alerted the state and asked BSF to step up vigil along the border. The CRPF has also started deploying its personnel along the Amarnath yatra route. The yatra will beginning on June 18 and continue for nearly two months. 'The army had to redraw the plan to rescue the hostages. We feigned an assault from the front of the house while a group of soldiers managed to break open the door at the rear helping the hostages to escape,' Lt Col Goswami said. One of the terrorists was killed at this stage. Regardless, however, of the success of the operation against the terrorists, the attack called into question the BSF’s claim that Thursday’s infiltration attempt was totally foiled. While locals say that the police had set up road blocks on the highway and intensified patrolling, indicating some terrorists had managed to sneak in, a police source said around 12 terrorists had got in when Pakistan Rangers opened covering fire for them to enter into the Indian side. 'The recovery of 10 kg RDX, some detonators and more than 100 rounds of the Pika sniper rifle on Friday confirmed these doubts,' a source said. But BSF director general Ashish Mishra, who was in Srinagar on Friday, ruled out infiltration of any more armed terrorists.