Alert Troops, Hi-tech Equipment Have Made Infiltration Difficult: Omar

22 July 2009
The Times of India

New Delhi: Fencing, ground sensors and electrification have made regular infiltration a lot more difficult than has been the case in the past and forced terrorists to change their border crossing schedule to March-April when snow and ice jams up some of the equipment used by security forces, J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said on Wednesday. In an interaction with the Times of India, Abdullah said infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan into Jammu & Kashmir had come down not necessarily because Pak-based terror groups had decided not to infiltrate terrorists but because security fences, radars and sensors deployed on LoC were making crossings extremely difficult. What this has meant is that infiltrating terrorists, typically from Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, have now to deal with a different 'window of opportunity' to get into the state, rather than the current July-August season when the snow has melted. The infiltrators are armed with Siachen-like gear and many suffer from severe frost bite. Bodies of infiltrators who have been gunned down show that the feet have been almost burnt off by the cold. Abdullah said that earlier, the thumb rule of infiltration was that it was non-existent during the winter months, when the passes are clogged with heavy snow and peak infiltration season was from June to September before the passes closed up yet again. Now, Abdullah said, the infiltration season is March-April - during a short period when the snow had started melting but there was still about a foot of it on the ground. This meant the passes were barely navigable, and the ground sensors out of action because of the snow. It's a small window of opportunity, and this year terrorists tried to exploit this to the hilt. They cross over streams and rivers in spate, just to utilise this time period. Just the other day, Abdullah said, forces recovered bodies of terrorists who had been swept down by an avalanche while trying to cross over. Their feet were all eaten away by frostbite. He said the terrorists were very well equipped. 'Some of the stuff they use are what our armed forces use in Siachen,' the CM said, indicating the level of support terrorists still enjoyr across the border. But it's too early to say that terrorism is terminally on the wane in the Valley. The government is operating on the premise that there are about 700 terrorists in J&K. Also, exfiltration is still happening with youths going over to Pakistan for training and equipment and coming back with a jihadi agenda. He said it was clear that terrorists would remain a threat as long as Pakistan did not unequivocally give up on using terror as a policy tool. Despite the proliferation of LeT and Jaish, it's still the Hizbul Mujahideen that is the big problem in the Kashmir Valley. Describing it as an 'indigenous' group, Abdullah said, 'It's the Hizb that makes the difference between a random attack by an LeT operative and a targeted one. The danger by the Hizb remains high.' Heaving a sigh of relief that the recent general elections went off without a hitch, Abdullah said his prime worry has been the safety and security of the Amarnath Yatra. With only a few days left for the yatra, the chief minister said the event-free annual prilgrimage this year, after the mayhem last year, was something he would notch up as a credit.