The department of telecommunications’ fresh directive that will put every person applying for a second mobile connection in Jammu and Kashmir under police scrutiny from February 1 could end a deadly cat and mouse game between the police and militants.
Ever since mobile services were allowed in Kashmir in 2003, eight years after the rest of the country, it became a major tool for militants as well as the counter-insurgency grid of security forces.
Lashkar-e-Taiba’s top militant Abdullah Unni, a foreigner of disputed origin, and Jaish-e-Muhammad’s Qari Hamad used dozens of SIM cards to evade the police.
“Unni must have used more than 30 SIM cards during his operation in Sopore,” said an official.
Unni survived for more than six years in the state when an average foreign militant’s life, according to security experts, is not more than six months.
Unni and Hamad were killed in separate encounters in 2011.
The police too have relied on the ubiquitous SIM cards to infiltrate militant groups. In 2010, the police succeeded in planting SIM cards in militant ranks through moles.
Messages floated by the police pit militant leaders against each other. “The first victim of such a constructed militant rivalry was LeT’s foreign militant Numan, who was killed by another militant who discovered a police officer’s text message on his phone,” said a source.