June 2001 News

3000 ultras ready to cross LoC

24 June 2001
The Hindustan Times
Neelesh Misra

Baramulla: Nearly 3,000 Pakistan-backed militants are ready to sneak into Kashmir to fight security forces despite Islamabad's peace moves, a top general said Sunday. "The Line of Control is silent. The situation is calm. There is no shelling. But Pakistan has started sending more terrorists inside India," said Maj-Gen. Mohan Bhandari, commanding officer of the army's key 18th division in Kashmir. The next two months are "critical", said Bhandari, whose army division comprises thousands of soldiers defending the Line of Control. India says Pakistan trains, arms and funds the guerrillas and sends them into Kashmir through the Himalayan passes, especially when the snow begins melting in March. Most of the militant groups fighting in Kashmir are based either in Pakistan or Pakistan occupied Kashmir. "There are 123 camps in Pakistan where their army is training the militants," Bhandari told AP in an interview. "There are almost 3,000 militants waiting to cross over, all along the LoC." He said more than 2,500 militants are already in the Valley. Defence ministry officials say that the number of militants crossing into India from Pakistan has gone up despite an easing of tension along the LoC. "Pakistan hasn"t stopped the infiltration. A cold line of control suits Pakistan," Bhandari said. Official estimates of the militants" strength are based on intelligence reports and conversations between militant groups on sophisticated wireless sets, often intercepted by security agencies. Most of the conversations are between militants in Kashmir and their leaders in PoK, officials say. Bhandari said Pakistan's backing for the militants has intensified since Gen. Musharraf took over as Pakistan's army chief more than two years ago, a position he still holds. "He started off everything with a vengeance. After Musharraf took over, the army and Inter Services Intelligence took direct control of the Kashmir militancy," he said.

 

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