PoK camps give high-altitude training to ultras
29 September 2001
New Delhi: Militants in Jammu and Kashmir receive specialised training in mountain warfare in camps just north of Kargil on the other side of the Line of Control. There are 17 training camps for about 500 terrorists in the Northern Areas of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, across Kargil and Baramulla, officials said. In 1999, Pakistani soldiers, supported by militants, infiltrated into Kargil and it was only in September, after three months of fighting, that they were pushed back. Militants belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiyaba, the recently formed Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Al-Badr and the Hizbul Mujahideen are trained in these camps. It''s not just drills, firing automatic weapons and use of explosives. Militants learn to use camouflage, ice- axes and other mountaineering equipment. There are two “layers” of camps in the Northern Areas. There are some camps very close to the Line of Control, less than 20-25 km away. They are in little hamlets or small towns at Nekrun, Taobat, Minimarg, Gultari, Mansher, Dudgai, Kamri, Domel and Makshi. These are small camps in which a few dozens militants receive training. The second “layer” of camps are probably larger and are further inside PoK. Four such camps have been identified. They are at Skardu, which was one of the administrative hubs of the Pakistani Army during the Kargil war in 1999, Gilgit, Chitra and Khapalu. But after the World Trade Center bombings, many of these camps have been cleared and the terrorists trained there are “mingling” with the local population. Many militants fought in the 1999 Kargil war but a large number of them served as irregulars, often ferrying food and equipment to the mountain peaks. After the war in 1999, militants have made very few attempts to infiltrate into the Drass-Kargil area. There have been many more infiltration bids in other sectors. The Army is likely to have an IG to monitor its state of morale, discipline and equipment readiness.