'2-3rd Of J&K Terrorists Are Foreign Mercenaries'
17 May 2003
The Asian Age
New Delhi: Around two-third of the terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir are foreign mercenaries as the local support has considerably dwindled in the state over the past few years. The observation was made by the Union home ministry after getting relevant inputs from the defence, para-military and state police forces. As disclosed by the home ministry in its annual report (2002-03), the local militants have been either marginalised or inveigled into supporting foreign elements that dominate the scene under the direct control of the Inter-Services Intelligence. The report, which was released last month, says, 'It is estimated that about 60-70 per cent of the terrorists operating in the state, at present, are from outside, with local mainly playing the role of porters and guides.' It further says, 'Since local support has considerably dwindled, terrorists depend almost entirely on support from across the border. Foreign mercenaries are more ruthless in killing innocent civilians without a thought.' The inputs provided to the home ministry mainly comprise the number of militants killed in the state, showing foreign mercenaries constitute a significant part of terrorists killed in the past few years. The statistics shows that out of 2,215 terrorists killed in the year 2002, 1,707 were foreign mercenaries. Similarly, the foreign mercenaries killed in the years 2001, 2000, 1999 and 1998 were 2028, 1520, 1082 and 999 out of total 2,655, 1,956, 1,387 and 1,318 terrorists respectively. The report says that the 15 years of terrorism in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir can be divided into three phases. The first (1988-90) witnessed the rise of the Azadi Groups, the second one (1991-95) was dominated by pro-Pak groups and the present phase (from 1996), in which the foreign mercenaries have been gradually taking over the mantle of terrorism in the state. Besides the dominance of foreign mercenaries, another discerning feature of the present phase was the increased activities of terrorists in Jammu region of J&K. Taking note of new trend, the report observes that the trends in terrorism during the year 202-03 also point to incremental use of suicide bombers, while the targeting witnessed a changeover from primarily civilians to militarily sensitive targets, religious places and symbols of national power. 'The attacks on the Raghunath Temple at Jammu and Kaluchak in the state and many other places were manifestations of this macabre strategy,' the report further said.