Jammu And Kashmir Alerted Over Major Terror Recruitment Drive

20 October 2015
Livemint
Rajnish Sharma

New Delhi: Central intelligence agencies have cautioned security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir that terrorist organizations in the state, particularly the indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen, 'will get more aggressive in the coming days' in efforts to recruit local youth. The warning comes against the backdrop of a sharp decrease in successful infiltration attempts from across the border into the Kashmir valley. According to classified details shared between central intelligence agencies and security forces and reviewed by Mint, there have been only 10 successful infiltration attempts from the 'launch pads' along the Line of Control until September 30 this year, compared with 55 in 2014. This means a sharp drop in the number of active militants operating in Kashmir. On an average terrorist outfits try and maintain between 500 and 800 active militants, particularly in the Valley, but now this figure has dropped to 200. And, with security forces tightening surveillance along the border and winter setting, in which would result in snow blocking the mountain passes that are used as infiltration routes, chances of any reinforcements arriving from across the border have diminished. The alert issued about a week ago by intelligence agencies has cautioned security forces to be on the lookout for groups like Hizbul Mujahideen starting a recruitment drive in the Valley. The alert also warns of 'Pakistan-based terror operatives sending in substantial money through the hawala network' to whip up trouble in the State so that terror activities and protests can run parallelly. In fact, intelligence agencies suspect that the ongoing agitation over a truck driver being killed on suspicion of transporting beef may well be part of the same strategy. Recently, the Intelligence Bureau, along with Jammu and Kashmir Police, carried out a successful counselling programme for 20 youth who had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, bringing them back into the social mainstream. 'Due to sustained efforts by our security forces not just successful infiltration but even infiltration attempts have also reduced drastically this year. There were only 65 infiltration attempts till September 30 this year against 125 in 2014,' a senior government official said on condition of anonymity. 'No doubt that militants groups are desperate and trying to rope in the local youth, even educated ones. Simultaneously, the terror operatives, with obvious backing of Pak ISI, are pumping in money to trigger more agitation in the state to destabilise the local government and foment trouble,' the official said. ISI is short for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The home ministry has also directed the Enforcement Directorate, which tackles foreign exchange violations, to closely monitor the illegal money trail or the hawala network to ensure that financial assistance does not reach elements in the Valley for fomenting unrest. 'We suspect that a lot of money is being sent through the hawala network to some of the hardliners, even in the Hurriyat, for adopting a tough anti-India stand,' the same official added. Senior officials in the home ministry confirmed that the Centre was closely monitoring developments in the Kashmir Valley, particularly the Hizbul Mujahideen's desperate attempt to give a further push to terror activities. One of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that even the militants who did manage to sneak into the Valley from across the border are not well trained and 'hardcore enough' in carrying out subversive activities, which explains why suicide attacks on security forces have virtually stopped. G.D. Bakshi, a retired major general and former head of Romeo Force, one of the main army units involved in counter-insurgency operations in the Valley, agreed with the assessment of the intelligence agencies. 'There is no doubt that the number of active militants in the Valley have dropped significantly and the reduction in violence is an indicator of that. This is making militants and their handlers in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir extremely jittery and they are pressurizing home-grown terror groups like Hizbul to recruit local boys now,' Bakshi said. 'I also agree that these operatives and ISI must be pumping in a lot of money for agitation to create problems for the local government, more so because they are not succeeding on the terror front,' he added.