The unforgiving intelligence war in Kashmir | Column | punjab | Hindustan Times
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The unforgiving intelligence war in Kashmir | Column

‘The intelligence war waged between the security forces and insurgents in Kashmir is harsh, unrelenting and marked by a high degree of ruthlessness’

punjab Updated: Jul 02, 2017 15:21 IST
Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Military intelligence operatives work in civil clothes but are always alert to attacks. Colonel Bipin Pathak armed with an assault rifle ready to carry out a raid, somewhere in Kashmir, circa early 2000s.
Military intelligence operatives work in civil clothes but are always alert to attacks. Colonel Bipin Pathak armed with an assault rifle ready to carry out a raid, somewhere in Kashmir, circa early 2000s.(Colonel Bipin Pathak )

Colonel Bipin Pathak who recently retired to Chandigarh is a dogged intelligence officer with long experience of operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the North-East and across borders.

He talked to me about the brutal, exacting intelligence war in Kashmir. There was the case of Iram (not her real name) who was so infatuated with Tamim, a top Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) commander, a Pakistani that her anger knew no bounds upon learning that he was two-timing her (hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and all that!). Her revenge was to give him up to military intelligence. It was agreed that she would inform the Army about her next meeting with the Pakistani. A simple code involving the number of rings on a cellphone would identify the location where the tryst was to take place.

To cut the long story short, the Army raid was successful with Tamim and two other Pakistani terrorists being killed. Like the security forces, terrorists too carry out comprehensive postmortems on operations to identify chinks in their own security and informers. To locate security forces’ sources, they look for villagers doing conspicuous consumption – purchase of luxuries, electronic items, vehicles, jewellery, clothes or repaying loans. Our heroine was unfortunately unmasked by her spending pattern and was hanged from a tree by the terrorists to set an example.

Terrorists try to lure security forces into ambushes by their comrades by pretending to surrender. The favoured method is to snatch weapons and run into pre-designated killing areas with security forces personnel in hot pursuit. Therefore, the Army insists on accepting surrenders only in their own camps. Another ploy, according to Bipin is to direct the security forces to what are supposed to be weapons caches which actually have improvised explosive devices (IEDs) implanted.

Wiser now, the security forces insist on having the terrorists uncover the caches themselves. Intelligence operatives function under onerous conditions, working in civil clothes, without protection and courting death at every step.

General Iqroop Ghumman

General Iqroop Ghumman took over as Chief of Staff at Western Command headquarters, previous year and quickly established a reputation for thoroughness, probity and professional competence. Now he and his charming wife, Ginny are moving to Bhopal where the General takes over command of XXI Corps, the designated strike formation for the desert area. A consummate soldier and an alumnus of Kapurthala Sainik School, the general is well placed both in terms of service acumen and residual service to be the next occupant of 4, Rajaji Marg in Lutyens’ Delhi. One wishes him happy hunting.

Ludhiana Veterans’ Body

I’ve always been in favour of a single, united organisation to protect veterans’ interests and work for their welfare. However, bodies of ex-servicemen working at the grassroots and run by dedicated, knowledgeable ex-servicemen are a welcome addition. I was privileged the other day to attend a meeting of the Ex-Servicemen Welfare Society at Ludhiana. Headed by Colonel Rajinder Singh, formerly of the Signals the Society does some extremely useful work in aiding officers and especially Jawans in the three critical areas where they need help – pensions, ECHS and canteen services. Colonel Sohi’s core team comprises other knowledgeable, committed officers and junior commissioned officers (JCO). It was an eye-opener to interact with them. One can only applaud their fine spirit of giving to their fellow veterans. Specialised data available with them is invaluable.

(Please write in with your narratives of war and military life to msbajwa@gmail.com or call/WhatsApp on 093161-35343)