Militants planning big strikes in J&K: Army
26 July 2002
The Times of India
New Delhi: A day before US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s arrival in the region to yet again press for de-escalation of tension between India and Pakistan, the Army on Friday said latest radio intercepts indicated that Pakistan-based terrorists were preparing for major strikes in Jammu and Kashmir next month. According to Army intelligence reports, as many as 500 al-Qaeda operatives amassed in Pakistan’s Northern Areas like Gultari were also in close contact with the 1,500 to 2,000 Laskhar, Jaish and Hizb militants stationed at different ‘‘launch pads’’ along the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Radio communication among various terrorist outfits, intercepted by the Army, show that orders have been issued to their cadres in J&K to engage in ‘‘toofani action’’ in August. The aim will be to spread widespread terror by targeting the ongoing Amarnath Yatra and Independence Day functions on August 15. ‘‘The militants also want to disrupt the forthcoming assembly elections in J&K in a major way. The communication among different outfits has increased in the last two weeks,’’ said a senior Army officer, armed with radio intercepts. One intercept, for instance, talks about targeting National Conference leaders or any other group which wants to participate in the polls. A PoK-based militant radio even broadcast that ‘‘Hizbul Mujahideen ne elan kiya hai jo bhi shakas namiyad election main hissa lega usko maut ke ghat utar diya jeyege (Hizbul Mujahideen has proclaimed that anybody who participates in the forthcoming elections will be killed)’’. ‘‘Contrary to what the US and UK claim, infiltration into J&K has not come down drastically...it has reduced roughly by only 30 to 40 per cent. We also have information that militants have procured around 200 satellite phones of Chinese-origin to augment their communication links,’’ said the officer. In the last 30 days, Indian forces have foiled six major infiltration attempts along the LoC. ‘‘But for every thwarted attempt, three to four succeed,’’ said an officer. Army officers also rubbished Pakistan’s claim that New Delhi had flown some Al-Qaida and Taliban prisoners from Northern Afghanistan to India. Pakistan, they said, had levelled the charge to pre-empt possibilities of Indian forces killing or capturing Al-Qaida operatives sneaking into the Kashmir valley. The officers also maintained that the number of civilian casualties in Kashmir had been ‘‘intentionally exaggerated’’ by Pakistan. They said the civilian casualties, between 1990 and now, stood at 12,817.