Kashmir Terror Groups Target Indian Heartland Again?16 September 2011
Times of India
New Delhi: Have Kashmiri terror groups returned to strike in the Indian heartland after a hiatus of several years? Indications emerging from the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) probe into the Delhi high court blast point to the possibility of Kashmiri terrorists expanding operations outside J&K, with the rejection of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru's mercy petition being the immediate provocation. If Kashmiri groups such as the Hizbul Mujahideen or the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami are involved in the Delhi blast-HuJI is particularly under the scanner-it will mark a break from the pattern of recent years when they have kept away from the rest of India. The big threat to the Indian mainland has been from groups like the Lashkar and Jaish-e-Muhammed which list Kashmir as a priority but have spread their operations. The Lashkar has shaded most other organizations and its imprimatur on the 2008 Mumbai attack has made it a terror group with global ambitions. Kashmiri groups and others like the LeT and the JeM are either based in Pakistan or have links to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, while the emergence of groups like the Indian Mujahideen add to the complexity of terror threats along with Hindu radicals. The IM has emerged as a home-grown outfit with deep links to the Lashkar and the Karachi project run by the ISI to direct Indian nationals to target the country. Ongoing investigations into the HC blast throw up the troubling reality of a possible resurgence of Kashmiri groups looking to strike outside the state. They may well compliment the Lashkar and Jaish or even link up with them. In recent times, bomb blasts in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Delhi in 2008 were the handiwork of the Indian Mujahideen while Abhinav Bharat members have been charged with the blasts in Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Ajmer Sharif. The last time investigation agencies named Kashmiris for a blast was in 2005 when more than 40 people were killed in the Sarojini Nagar market in Delhi. Groups like the JKLF-charged with the kidnap and murder of Indian diplomat Ravindra Mahtre in 1984-have long faded to newer versions which have a large component of Pakistani nationals. Sources said there was a significant spurt in infiltration in recent weeks. However, they also feel this could not have had any significant impact on the activities of Kashmiri groups outside the state. In August, at least 74 militants had tried to sneak in, and 15 were successful. This was the highest infiltration figure for a month since August 2009, but sources are not willing to find any linkages between the rise in infiltration and the possible activity outside Kashmir. Otherwise, Kashmir militancy has recorded a significant drop in all parameters. Until May 31, there was a 50% drop in almost all parameters used to measure militancy.