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Militants add medical armour to terror

india Updated: Aug 19, 2009 01:41 IST
Arun Joshi
Arun Joshi
Hindustan Times
Militants add medical armour to terror arsenal

Cross-border militancy in Jammu and Kashmir has taken a disturbing turn with ultras being trained in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Pakistan to deal with medical emergencies, including surgery.

The focus of the paramedical training is on treating injuries militants can receive at high altitudes. These include bullet and grenade injuries as well as frostbites and other high altitude ailments.

The state police stumbled upon this new facet of militancy in the border state when they interrogated Nazir Ahmed Beig, 35, of Budgam district, 20 km north of Srinagar, after arresting him on a tip-off in the Kashmir Valley on July 31. Beig was on his way back home after being in Pok and Pakistan for nine years.

“This is the first time that we have learnt of such a corps coming up among the militants’ ranks,” a police official who interrogated Nazir but did not want to be named, told Hindustan Times.

Till now Maoist groups were the only insurgent outfits to have paramedical and medical support from committed cadres and sympathizers.

A senior police officer said this paramedical backup for militants was a worrying phenomenon as their outfits will now be able to retrieve injured cadres.

Injured militants usually die in the heights or are arrested after locals inform the police of their whereabouts.

Beig had crossed over to PoK nine years ago along with 22 others who wanted to join the militants’ ranks to fight for Kashmir’s freedom.

After the mandatory three-month training in use of arms and ammunition at a camp frequented by Hizbul Mujahadeen supremo Salahauddin and and his deputy Amir Khan.

Beig told his interrogators that he was among a group of six who were then sent for paramedical training at hospitals in PoK and Pakistan for two years. Beig said he worked day and night with doctors and paramedical staff, learning how to treat patients with bullet or bomb injuries and frostbites.

Beig’s return journey on a Pakistani passport began from Karachi.

He landed at Kathmandu on July 21, after which he took public transport to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and then to Srinagar.

Police sources said the Pakistani establishment’s active involvement in militancy was revealed as Beig’s baggage contained a pistol and magazines. These could not have been allowed on the aircraft from Karachi to Kathmandu under ordinary circumstances.