Concern over child militants in J&K
8 February 2003
JAMMU: Despite an international campaign against the recruitment of children for armed conflicts, child militants have become more active in the recent past in Jammu and Kashmir. On May 25, 2000, the United Nations adopted an optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts. It had asked the parties to conflicts to ensure that children below the age of 18 did not take part in hostilities. Several children have been killed in operations by security forces in the State. Lt. Gen. J.B.S. Yadava, who was involved in anti- insurgency operations in Jammu, says, more than 50 per cent of the militant ranks are from the 14-18 age group. Even the children below the age of 14 have been shot dead. For instance, on August 8 last year a 13-year-old boy wearing a black Pathan dress was killed in the Mendhar sector of Poonch district while entering the Indian territory from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The child was among the seven other militants killed in an encounter. Children of such tender age are used to carry arms and ammunition, and they are forced to take hazardous routes while crossing the line of control. They are normally caught or shot down. Decline in drug smuggling The drug smuggling across the Indo-Pak international border has reduced. The main route of the smuggling passed through Jammu and Kathau districts. The patch has several ravines and rivulets which serve as save entry-exit points. Before the era of militancy, the violation of the border was mostly by smugglers. Several illicit distilleries prosper along the border belt of the Jammu region. Liquor is illegally taken to Pakistan as the country has strict prohibition laws. Drugs including opium and heroine used to be smuggled into the Indian side through the Punjab province of Pakistan from Afghanistan. In the later stages, militants too infiltrated in the garb of smugglers because of punishments for smuggling in less compared to those for militancy. According to the Inspector-General of Border Security Force for Jammu frontier, Dileep Trivedi, the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan and other anti-drug activities in that country after the overthrowing of the Taliban regime has reduced drug trade. Further, the fencing of the Indo-Pak. border and the killing of a few top smugglers have had a great impact in checking smuggling. Four PoK militants killed Four members of a newly-formed militant organisation &*151; Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Army &*151; were killed by the Army in an encounter in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district of Jammu region. All the four killed militants hailed from PoK. The identity cards were issued by one Haq Nawaz Khan in PoK on behalf of the outfit. According to Army sources, the outfit is an armoured wing of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which stands for the independence of Jammu and Kashmir. The headquarters of the outfit is Muzaffarabad, the capital of PoK. Recoveries from the militants include four AK-56, 12 magazines, radio sets and documents.