Taliban Presence Felt In Kashmir Valley

7 April 2009
The Indian Express

New Delhi: If security agencies are to be believed, Taliban is not just knocking at the borders, but they are inside Kashmir now. The recent alleged intercepts of Lashker-e-Toiba militants and Hizb-ul- Mujahideen cadres by the police and security agencies indicate the presence of battle hardened Taliban militants in the frontier district of Kupwara. Police sources said that on March 26 a large group of militants which sneaked in valley through Gurez sector had many Taliban militants, managed to reach Kupwara. It was during these days that police received an intercept between two LeT operatives talking about the presence of Taliban militants. According to police sources one of the operative on this side informs the other that ‘the new people who have come are all Taliban and they are only talking about killings and getting killed. We are really fed up with these (Taliban) people. What to do?” The other operative replies in Urdu saying, “Throw them out.” According to intercepts, he further adds, “I will have to consult ‘bade bhai.” Top police officials in J-K maintain that the militants killed in recent three encounters along the Line of Control in Kupwara and Gurez sectors didn’t belong either to Lashkar, Jaish or other militant organisation operating in Kashmir. But they stop short of confirming these militants as actually belonging to Taliban ranks for various reasons. “An official confirmation about the presence of Taliban militants in Kashmir means direct American intervention at some level, as Americans have now been chasing Taliban every where they go,” a police officer said. On the other hand, the Army officials engaged in the encounters in north Kashmir along LoC since March 20 say that the militants fought in the last three encounters appeared not to ordinary militants. “We have not witnessed such fighting capabilities among the militants operating in Kashmir in the past, as demonstrated by these militants,” an officer said who was part of the two recent operations in Kupwara against the infiltrators. In fact, there has been no let up in the gun battles raging in Kupwara and Gurez sectors. Although security officials have been weary of the new found fighting capabilities of these militants, the separatists of Kashmir have vehemently denied the presence of Taliban militants in Kashmir. Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah said neither Al-Qaida nor Taliban were present in the state. 'It is propaganda unleashed by the Indian agencies,' Geelani said.