Pakistan Men Guided Srinagar Attackers7 January 2010
The Economic Times
New Delhi: The Lashkar-e-Toiba module behind the 20-hour terror siege on Lal Chowk in Srinagar was in touch with its Pakistani bosses through the encounter, asking them to get a simultaneous attack launched elsewhere so as to divert the attention of the security forces. The terrorists, of whom one was a Pakistani and two locals, had contacted their Pakistani handlers through mobile phones. By seeking the launching of attacks at another spot in Srinagar, they were allegedly trying to divide the attention of the forces so as to go about their terror mission with lesser resistance and, in case of a failure, to make a quick escape. It was by intercepting the phone conversations between the terrorists and their handlers across the border that the security agencies were able to establish the Pakistani identity of one of the terrorists. He has been identified as Qari. His other two colleagues, however, are believed to be local Kashmiris. Even as the Lal Chowk attack has been successfully repulsed with only two fatal casualties, the security establishment is apprehending more such attacks in the Valley in the coming days. Recent intercepts indicate possible attempts by the terrorists to create mischief by lobbing grenades or engaging the forces in gunbattle to take advantage of the thinned-out forces across the Valley in view of the shifting of the J&K durbar to Jammu. The Lal Chowk attack does not really come as a surprise as the Centre was anticipating such attacks in Srinagar following the shifting of J&K capital to Jammu. The continued cross-border infiltration even through the lull in the Valley, as well as inputs that as many as 700 terrorists are holed up in J&K, only confirmed that terrorists were only waiting for an appropriate moment to strike. According to infiltration figures compiled by the multi-agency centre (MAC), as many as 473 infiltration attempts were made between January and November 2009. While 93 terrorists were intercepted and neutralised and 227 retreated into Pakistan on being intercepted, 110 terrorists managed to give the border forces a slip and successfully entered India. Agencies see the 110 infiltrated terrorists - with a 70% foreign component and 30% local - as a threat not only to J&K but also to the rest of the country. According to terror chatter featuring Hizbul Mujahideen leaders, the direction to the terrorist cadres is loud and clear: “Sneak into India fast and do something big”. In J&K, the intelligence agencies have warned of possible attempts to take advantage of the skeletal deployment of forces in the Valley in view of the shift in durbar to Jammu. The nearly 700 terrorists holed up in the Valley, of which half are foreigners, may adopt the same modus operandi as the Lal Chowk attack, lobbying grenades and indulging in other small encounters. The infiltration attempts are also likely to continue during the winter. Intercepts indicate that as many as 400 terrorists may be waiting across the border to infiltrate into J&K, of which 200 are ready to be launched. Some attempts at infiltration have been reported by a module now located at Kotli village in PoK and another module waiting to cross over from Muzaffarabad to Kupwara, before taking the Rajouri-Poonch route to enter south Kashmir.