It was in May last year that militants dressed as policemen breached security and opened fire at a youth Congress function in Srinagar, killing seven people and injuring 21 others. Intelligence agencies are now concerned that militants using the stolen identity cards of armymen would wreak similar havoc.
The concern stems from the fact that as many as 67 mobile SIM cards recovered over the last three months from captured militants in Jammu and Kashmir by the state police were procured by the militants by using fake identity cards of army personnel.
That’s not all. An entire batch of 87 identity cards belonging to armymen below the rank of officers has mysteriously disappeared, said defence ministry sources. A court of inquiry has been ordered early in March added the sources. If militants can procure fake ids of army personnel, the missing i-cards too could find their way into the hands of militant outfits, worry intelligence and counter insurgency agencies.
The army, police and intelligence agencies are being tight lipped, but sources told HT on Saturday that linkages between the two seemingly unrelated developments are being probed.
“I cannot comment on the matter but if militants have gained access to these it could be very serious. They could use these for much more than simply procuring cell phone connections,” said IG Jammu Range SP Vaid.
The police first recovered two such cards from Kot Bhalawal prison in Jammu last year. The cards were seized from jail inmates in December 2006, army sources said. Investigations revealed that these cards were actually used by two Lashkar militants to speak to their commanders across the border. The two had been moved to the Sangrur jail in Punjab before the cards found issued in the names of army jawans were seized.
"Militants have been using this strategy of getting SIM cards issued in names of army jawans to tarnish the image of the army. Moreover, getting a connection using a soldier’s name is the easiest,” said PRO Defence (Jammu) Lt. Col. SD Goswami. He added that various agencies have been alerted and investigations are on.
“We have also alerted the two mobile service providers Airtel and BSNL and we are coordinating with them,” Lt Col Goswami said.