Camp Raid Glare On Rebel-turned-jawan
3 January 2008
Lucknow: A surrendered Kashmir militant who was later inducted into the Central Reserve Police Force is being questioned for alleged suspicious behaviour during the New Year attack on the force’s Rampur camp. The jawan claims he was asleep all the time at the additional DIG’s office where the raiders killed two jawans and fired at least 16 other bullets that scarred the walls, police officers said. The state police’s anti-terrorist squad (ATS), which is probing the attack that killed seven jawans overall, suspects the former militant helped the rebels escape. The jawan has been brought to Lucknow for interrogation. Officers wouldn’t name the jawan or the militant outfit he once belonged to. They only said the suspect was from Baramulla and had surrendered in 2000. He was given the CRPF job in 2002. Had the jawan, on duty at the additional DIG’s office, retaliated, “he could have killed at least one of the attackers”, a senior ATS officer said. “But he says he didn’t hear the firing.” The officer added that when the suspect was shown the 16 bullet marks on the wall and asked how he could have slept through so much firing, he could not provide a satisfactory answer. “We need to question him further. We are not drawing any immediate conclusions but it’s a fact that he did not behave rationally during the shooting.” Sources said many surrendered Kashmir militants have been inducted into the central forces. Former militants are watched for a couple of years after their surrender, and if nothing suspicious is found in their behaviour during that period, they are eligible for recruitment under their state’s quota. The sources insisted that once a person joined one of the central forces, he was treated just the same as every other recruit and was not specially watched. A CRPF officer said that of the 1,000 personnel at the Rampur camp, 68 were former Kashmir rebels. The ATS is going through the suspect’s mobile phone records and trying to find out who his recent associates were and how he had behaved in the hours before the attack. Officers believe the attackers were from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba. Police have reopened files on two Lashkar activists who escaped from a Lucknow court last year. A senior CRPF officer confirmed the detention of a jawan and said: “We are ready to cooperate with the police.” The ATS has also detained two local youths, who are being questioned at Rampur. CRPF inspector-general Karmveer Singh defended his men against allegations that they got too drunk at the camp’s New Year party and neglected security. The party ended at 12.30am, more than two hours before the 2.45am attack, Singh said. “There was no security lapse. The men killed or injured in the attack were not drunk,” he added.