J&K ultras make a game of Jehad
30 September 2000
MAHORE (Jammu): Militants fighting a “jehad” in Jammu and Kashmir have found new ways of recreation, which includes playing polo and cricket in the higher reaches of the mighty Pir Panjal ranges that separate Jammu from the Kashmir valley. As the Pir Panjal heights stretch up to 15,000 feet, there are beautiful meadows where these mercenaries play polo in the ranges which fall into Mahore and Gulabgarh region, Dhakiyar near Kandi in the Buddhal area, Shakermarg in the Thaamandi area and Kounsernar, which is on both sides of the Pir Panjal ridge. Officers of Mahore Brigade, which became operational in March, said things had improved a lot since they came to this region. “We have reports that militants used to play polo in higher reaches of Pir Panjal some 1-2 years ago, but not now,” says Maj. Sanjay Rai of Mahore Brigade. This, he adds, was due to the fact that there was no security forces there and militants had a complete control over the area. But since a full brigade has been deployed in Mahore which looks over the entire Gool, Gulabgarh, Arnas, Chasana and other areas, militant activities have been checked to a great extent, he says. The villagers, on the other hand, said militants still play this game as security forces find it very difficult to reach those heights because of the highly inaccessible terrain, whereas the militants know the area well. Maj. Rai also says the beautiful meadows on top of Pir Panjal can be seen from aircraft and helicopters. The thick foliage and natural caves in these ranges also provide the militants a safe haven, he adds. Things are no different in Doda, where the militants have been playing cricket in several places. Col Arun Kumar Sharma of 5 Sikh LI which is deployed in Gandoh, told The Statesman that there are many places in that area, especially in Behali (Gandoh) bordering Himachal Pradesh where they have received reports of militants playing cricket in the meadows. “But when we send our columns, they disperse and take to the safe hideouts,” said Col Sharma.