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Militancy on mobile phones in Kashmir

If militancy is criss-crossing this city again, it is because of a hyper active Lashkar-e-Taiba and the mobile phones of their operatives in the Valley.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2009 20:16 IST
Arun Joshi

If militancy is criss-crossing this city again, it is because of a hyper active Lashkar-e-Taiba and the mobile phones of their operatives in the Valley.

Amid the brisk shopping for the Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, an uneasy sense of creeping fear that militants might strike. And when they strike at uniformed men civilians too get killed or injured.

“Fear is lurking in shadows,” admitted Showkat Ahmad, a taxi driver. A tendency to keep a safe distance fromsecurity forces vehicles’ is back, and pedestrians avoid getting close to the deployment of policemen in the city.

“It’s but natural,” Showkat said. “No one wants to get killed on streets.”

A car bomb explosion outside central jail in Srinagar on September 12 killed six people, the target were policemen, for four among the dead were policemen. Earlier, they had shot policemen, equipped with batons, shields and teargas, using silencer fitted pistols.

The police were successful in thwarting another car bomb explosion in city, with the arrest of Gowhar, an operative of the LeT in Tral , Pulwama. He had purchased an old Maruti car for Rs. 40,000 and the vehicle was to be exploded in Srinagar.

Why policemen?

Twenty policemen- nine regulars and 11 SPOs have been killed in this year so far.

The total number of the policemen killed in militants’ action last year was 10.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told HT that the militants took advantage of the vulnerability of the change of the profile of the policemen and CRPF from counter-insurgency to law and order - equipping them with teargas, batons and shields. "Now we are reviewing this strategy”.

Sources said that the LeT operatives are under pressure from their mentors across to kill “ security forces personnel”.

“We have been told,” Gowhar revealed to his interrogators, "that our men ( militants) are getting killed and we (militants in Kashmir) are doing nothing. We must act against the policemen.”

Most of the militant leaders, especially the top commanders are ensconced in the higher reaches- with all the facilities in their hideouts - they direct their men to shoot, cause explosions, targeting policemen or CRPF personnel. That’s precisely what Rehman- a Pakistani commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba , based in Kellar, Pulwama did by directing his men to explode a car bomb in Srinagar last Saturday. The police have announced a rewards of Rs 10 lakh or one million on his head.

Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda confirmed to HT that the mobile phones were becoming a lethal instrument in the hands of the militants. “Most of the time, these operatives have several SIM cards”.

It is a shift from the days when battle hardened militants would mount the "fidayeen” attacks and engage the troops for hours together. No fidayeen attack has taken place in this city since October 3-4, 2006. In fact, there has been no big militancy related incident in the whole of the state in the past two years.

"Terrorism is there, terror has gone," observed a senior police officer. But he added: “barrels are down, not out.”

An officer working in north Kashmir was worried that they were finding it difficult to find the militants, they were in heights of Bangus Valley, Lolab, from where they direct the operations- these are mostly targeted killings. And killing of an individual or a party worker doesn’t require a man trained in Afghanistan or in high mountains or indoctrinated to carry out the task.