Kashmir Militants 'join Forces': Indian Minister

10 April 2009
Agence France-Presse

Srinagar: Rival Muslim rebel groups fighting Indian rule over a part of Kashmir have started to coordinate their militant operations and the area had to remain on 'high alert,' a minister said Friday. Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said security forces believed the Pakistan-based groups Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jamiat-ul-Mujahedin and Hizbul Mujahedin were now 'working in concert' in the disputed region. 'Earlier they were working separately,' he told the NDTV news channel. 'We make sure we remain on high alert because... the level of threats are pretty high,' he said. New Delhi accuses Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of funding and arming Kashmiri militants, a charge Islamabad denies. But Chidambaram said it was currently unclear who in violence-wracked Pakistan was behind a recent surge in Kashmiri militant activity and what he described as 'serious attempts' to flood Indian Kashmir with rebels. 'We don't know who is directing them. Is it the ISI? Is it some other state agency? Is it a non-state player? Is it Taliban? Too early to say,' he said. Chidambaram's comments came amid media reports that Taliban militants - already active in Afghanistan and Pakistan - were planning to expand their operations into Kashmir during this month's general elections. The minister said intercepts of militant communications had found references to the Taliban, 'but it was too early to say what it meant.' The anti-India insurgency broke out in Kashmir in 1989 and has left more than 47,000 people dead, according to an official toll.