171 Crossed LoC To Surrender, Home Calls For Caution
9 June 2007
The Indian Express
New Delhi: The internal security establishment, including the Jammu and Kashmir Police, has called for more caution in the Army's ongoing exercise involving the surrender of alleged Kashmiri militants after they cross over the 520-km Line of Control (LoC). Since 2005, 171 people, travelling from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, have surrendered to the Army. Army Headquarters claims there is no difference of opinion, the J&K police and the Home Ministry have made their reservations known to the highest levels of the UPA government, including National Security Advisor M K Narayanan. They argue that while they have no objections to militants surrendering in the hinterland - like the June 5 surrender of 11 Hizbul militants at the Army's Bhalesa camp in Doda - there is a need to be wary of the LoC surrenders. While the Home Ministry admits that few of these surrendered militants are from hardcore jihadi groups like the Lashkar or the Jaish, a large number of them have had training in weapons and explosives. Senior officials say a majority of them are from fringe groups that operated under a little known umbrella Kashmir Revolutionary Force outfit. And since there are no charges against the surrendered except cross-LoC transgression (under the Foreigners Act), these individuals are sent back into the mainstream after routine interrogation by the J&K Police. The fear is that some of those among those being sent could join the ranks of overground secessionists before the forthcoming state Assembly elections next year. The internal security establishment believes that there should be an institutionalized mechanism between the two countries on accepting these surrenders after proper verification through Uri- Chakoti crossing in Kashmir or Chakkanbagh-Rawalkot crossing in Jammu. Speaking to The Sunday Express, Army headquarters claimed that the surrenders were only being effected after due verification by the state police and Intelligence Bureau. Senior Army officials claimed that a tag was also kept on 'militants' to ensure that the surrender is not part of any strategy from across the LoC. 'The Army does not believe that militant surrenders are being orchestrated by the Pakistani establishment,' said an Army general. But a top state police official said that the only existing pre-surrender verification is the date the 'militant' went to PoK for training. 'There is no way we can tell the Army what the person was doing when in a PoK training camp...even if a few trained militants have slipped in as misguided youth, we will have to be very careful,' the official said.