30 Kashmiri youths, 270 people exfiltrate to PoK
25 June 2000
The Daily Excelsior
Rajouri: Atleast 30 Kashmiri youths have succeeded in exfiltrating to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) from the Line of Control (LoC) in Sabjian area of Poonch sector last night for arms training while about 270 civilians also deserted their houses in Tarkundi area of Mendhar sector and migrated to PoK. Describing the two developments as ''very serious'', official sources said senior army officials and DIG Rajouri-Poonch Range Ram Lubaya were camping in Tarkundi where an entire village was bereft of the civilians following large-scale migration to PoK. This is for the first time during ongoing militancy that one entire villages including women and children have migrated to PoK, the sources said, adding that reasons behind the migration were being ascertained. Preliminary investigations, however, revealed that people fled to PoK due to torture by some security agencies on the name of shielding militants. Giving details, they said a Kashmiri youth Aashiq Hussain of Ganderbal surrendered at Sabjian post this morning with the help of local people. He told police that he was part of a group of 34 Kashmiri youths who spent two days at Chappar Kanari village awaiting an opportunity to cross over to PoK for arms training. Of 34, a couple of persons acted as guides of the militants while few others were motivators. Aashiq said three youths returned to Kashmir enroute as they couldn’t trek the hilly areas. While he was sleeping last night at some distance away, other 30 youths crossed over to PoK through LoC presuming that they were 31. Aashiq woke up in the morning and found himself all alone. He sought the help of local people and then surrendered before police where he was being subjected to questioning. Police have sounded army about exfiltration of Kashmiri youths to PoK. Only yesterday, army and police had arrested four youths hailing from Doda and Kashmir from Thil area of Budhal before they could exfiltrate across the LoC. Two militants, who had brought the four youths to Rajouri, were killed in an encounter with army in an adjoining area few days back. The exfiltration of as many as 30 Kashmiri youths to PoK for arms training indicates that local militancy has not died down as was being claimed by security forces, the sources said. Meanwhile, in another serious development, atleast 270 people including women and children besides their cattle deserted village Tarkundi near LoC in Mendhar sector of Poonch district and migrated to PoK. Official sources confirmed migration of 165 villagers while unofficial reports put the number of migrants at 270. They belonged to Tarkundi and adjoining Dhandkot and Morha villages. Reports said that an announcement was made from a mosque in Palni area of PoK the other day calling upon the people to migrate. An SPO Fateh Khan was among those who migrated to PoK. Surprisingly, army personnel deployed on LoC couldn’t detect such a massive migration to PoK. They came to know about migration only in the morning when the village was found virtually empty. Army officials from Poonch and Rajouri besides DIG Rajouri-Poonch Range Ram Lubaya and SSP Poonch Pankaj Saxena rushed to the villages to review the situation. Migrants had taken away their all goods including cattle across the LoC. A couple of families, putting up in adjoining villages, said the families were being tortured by some security agencies for helping militants in infiltration. Fed up with daily questioning, the families decided to exfiltrate to PoK. While migration of a couple of families to PoK from LoC from time to time has been in reports, this was probably for the first time that 270 people have migrated across the LoC in a single incident. The incident, sources said, was being looked into. Troops have been alerted all along the LoC to prevent any such fresh exfiltration attempt from any village of Poonch and Rajouri districts.