Fed Up With Lashkar Excesses, 2 Hizbul Ultras Surrender
17 August 2000
Rajouri: Fed up with the atrocities being committed on local people by foreign mercenaries of Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit, two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, hailing from this border district, today surrendered before Romeo Force alongwith a large quantity of arms and explosives. ''The foreign mercenaries of Lashkar outfit are not ''jehadis'' but petty criminals, who are committing excesses on innocent villagers by outraging the modesty of young girls and looting food and cash from the people'', the militants told EXCELSIOR after their surrender before Maj Gen Richard Khare, GOC Romeo Force in the presence of DIG BSF G S Shekhawat. The surrenderees have been identified as Mohd Shabir son of Mohd Din and Mohd Arif son of Ghulam Mohd, both residents of Rajouri and trained in Pakistan. Mohd Shabir was an expert of launching mortar and missile attacks on security forces and fabricating remote-controlled Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Mohd Shabir laid down one AK-47 rifle with five magazines, one radio set, two hand grenades and a pouch while Mohd Arif surrendered alongwith one AK-47 rifle, its four magazines, four hand grenades and one pouch. The surrendered militants said during their tenure in militancy, they saw the foreign mercenaries of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Ansar and Harkat-ul Jehad Islami committing large scale atrocities on the people, who refused to follow their dictates. ''Even local militants like us were many times beaten-up by the mercenaries, or even killed, if we refused to harass the civilians at the behest of foreign mercenaries'', they added. ''Unable to bear the inhuman behaviour of mercenaries any more, we decided to surrender'', they said. The surrender, according to a Defence spokesman, took place due to concerted efforts of DIG BSF (Counter Intelligence) S S Chahar, Commandant 181 battalion of BSF, part of Romeo Force. Mohd Shabir, 21, was a school going boy when he was picked up by the militants at the age of 15 to work as a porter for them. According to his statement, he was sent to a training camp of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), where he was imparted basic training for one year in 1997. Thereafter, he was sent to Kabul in Afghanistan for specialist training in preparing and planting IEDs, small arms and firing of RPG-7 and 107 rockets. After completion of three years training, he infiltrated into Indian territory alongwith a group of Hizbul Mujahideen militants. In due course, he was appointed as ''battalion commander'' and deputed to terrorise the people of Kandi, Budhal area. However, the 181 battalion of BSF, operating in that area, motivated Mohd Shabir through local population to lay down his arms. Shabir too, disenchanted with terrorism and seeing development of the area, preferred to lead a honourable life and surrendered. Mohd Arif, 23, was picked up by Farid, the present ''divisional commander'' of Hizbul Mujahideen for Rajouri-Poonch area in 1994. He received arms training in Kotli, PoK and then at Muzafarabad for one year. Arif infiltrated alongwith a group of militants of Hizbul through Nikiyal sector in 1997. He had been nominated as ''launching commander'' of HM by Farid. Arif said as a ''launching commander'' he felt disenchanted to see that even teen-aged boys were being sent for arms training in Pakistan after forcing them to quit their schools. He too was motivated by local population to lay down his arms and join the mainstream. Speaking to newsmen on the occasion, Maj Gen Richard Khare called upon his force to encourage misguided elements to join the mainstream. ''It''s better to choose the path of progress rather than destruction'', he said and called upon other militants to surrender honourably rather than losing their lives in encounters. Maj Gen Khare said that under the new surrender policy announced by the State Government Rs 17,000 will be given as incentive to every militant for surrendering with weapons. He said both the surrendered militants will be rehabilitated after completion of their training in the Rehabilitation Centre. The surrendered militants will also get a monthly stipend of Rs 1800 for next 12 months. Maj Gen Khara assured that adequate measures would be taken by the police to provide necessary protection to surrendered militants and their families.