1999 is the tenth year of terrorism in J&K. Despite vociferous denials to the contrary, Pakistan continues to finance, train, equip and support Kashmiri terrorists and actively abet their attempts at infiltration across the Line of Control (LoC). As the initial recruitment base in the Kashmir Valley has very completely dried up, Pakistan is increasingly resorting to sponsoring Islamic mercenaries to let loose a reign of terror in J&K. A suo motto statement made by the Defence Minister in the Lok Sabha on August 5, 1998, explained Pakistan’s frustrations and its desperation to raise the ante in Kashmir. Extracts from the statement are reproduced below.
“Pakistan has always resorted to firing along the LoC to facilitate infiltration by Pakistani and foreign terrorists who are organised, trained equipped, financed, armed and finally infiltrated with active covering fire and support from Pakistani Army deployed along the LoC. In recent months, especially since May 1998, our security forces have been able to intercept and reduce the level of infiltration, thereby frustrating Pakistan’s designs. As if to give vent to its frustration, Pakistan has started targeting not only our Army posts but also civilian inhabited areas, with Batalik, Kargil, Kanzalwan, Tangdhar, Karen and Uri becoming the main targets.
“These actions by Pakistan are in consonance with its calculated design to obstruct and stall peaceful bilateral dialogue and to create a sense of alarm by orchestrating incidents on the border which will project Jammu and Kashmir as a ‘flashpoint’. Pakistan’s desperation is becoming acute in view of the fast declining Kashmiri support in the Valley to terrorism, control of which has passed into the hands of Pakistani terrorist organisations, patronised by Pakistani political figures; and foreign mercenaries directed by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence.”
With the Indian security forces in almost complete control of the security situation in the Kashmir Valley, the centre of gravity of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)-controlled and directed mercenary activities is gradually shifting to new areas south of Pir Panjal Range which separates the Jammu region from the Kashmir Valley. These include Doda (Kishtwar and Bhadarwah), Poonch and Rajouri. Sporadic acts of wanton terrorism were also perpetrated in and around Jammu City and Udhampur during 1997-98. Serious attempts are also being made to widen the arc of terrorism to areas in the states bordering J&K such as in the Dalhousie-Chamba area of Himachal Pradesh.
As most areas south of the Pir Panjal Range in Jammu region are predominantly Hindu majority areas, unlike the Kashmir Valley, which is a Muslim majority area, the aim is clearly to create a communal and sectarian divide. Acts of terrorism targeted primarily against Hindus are designed to engender mass migrations by whipping up a fear psychosis on the pattern of the exodus of Hindus from the Kashmir Valley in 1990-93, with a view to gradually changing the demographic pattern in the Jammu region and adjacent areas. Tables 1 and 2 show the brutal and savage acts of terrorism perpetrated in the Kashmir Valley and the areas south of the Pir Panjal Range in 1996-98, masterminded by the ISI and executed with ruthless precision by foreign mercenaries.