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August 24, 1999
ISI-backed terrorists reported to have come in through Kargil
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
Hundreds of ISI-sponsored terrorists carrying large consignments of explosives and weapons entered India through Kargil when infiltrators from Pakistan controlled the area. These terrorists are now engaged in reviving defunct separatist groups and organising subversive activities across the country, sources in the Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi police said.
Sources said the interrogation of recently-arrested terrorists, from whom about 60 kg of RDX was recovered, suggested that another 60 kg of high explosive was concealed in different parts of the country.
"We believe ISI agents who entered India through the Kargil mountains may be the ones aiding subversive activities right now," said the officials involved in the recent crackdown on ISI agents. Efforts are on to retrieve the explosives, believed to be concealed in different parts of north India.
Military Intelligence believe that there may have been about a thousand ISI agents who have crossed into India during the Kargil crisis. Intelligence Bureau and other agencies support this theory. "A stretch of about 140 kilometres was under their custody. They just took advantage of it," sources said.
Various agencies put the number of terrorists who have entered India through Kargil at about 1,000. A large number is believed to have entered India through other parts of the Kashmir Valley and from Burma and Bangladesh.
The sources said ISI activists had fanned out across the country to whip up anti-national activities around the time of the elections, when security forces would already be stretched.
ISI agents have fanned out across the country to revive separatist outfits like those fighting for Khalistan, those in the northeast and some from the minority communities.
The intelligence reports and recent arrests suggest the ISI is using Muslim-dominated areas as hideouts. In Punjab, and the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, it is locating itself in the areas where Sikhs are in a majority.
On August 20, the Delhi police seized 50 kg of RDX from three militants of the Khalistan Commando Force. Dilbagh Singh alias Bagha, Bakshish Singh alias Baba and Charanjit Singh alias Sukha were driving into the capital with the RDX. They also had sophisticated timers.
Sources said those arrested were merely couriers, and that another group was to retrieve the consignments and set off the bombs during the elections.
Already, some terrorists have been arrested in Punjab and subversive activities have increased in Kashmir and the northeast. And though the recent blasts on railway tracks in the northeast have been declared the handiwork of agents of ISI and groups in the northeastern, it is yet be ascertained whether the explosives found their way in through Kargil.
There has also been increase in the number of terrorist activities in Kashmir, including attacks on army installations. Intelligence sources said these activities also increased after Kargil.
On the next day, the Delhi police and NSG commandos shot dead two more militants from the Khalistan Commando Force (Panjiwar). The Panjiwar group, with hardly has any cadres left, has been known to organize bomb blasts. The intelligence agencies fear that in the coming days terrorists could also target political leaders.
The agencies have already alerted the home ministry, which, in turn, has asked the states to be vigilant about possible sabotage by the ISI during the elections. Sources said the home ministry's assessment suggested Pakistani agents were sneaking into India through the porous border with Bangladesh posing as migrants and by bribing BSF jawans. It points out to the massive increase in Muslim population in Assam as a matter of concern.
Though a senior officer in the Army's Eastern Command had invited attack when he said terrorists were using madrasas in the northeast as hideouts, authoritative sources say there is some truth in his assertion.
"The terrorists will try to hide in friendly places, influence the gullible and revive dead and weak extremists organizations," the sources said.
Intelligence agencies have been alerted to keep a watch on areas of Muslim majority, and in places where Khalistan sympathizers are still located.
In fact, sources said that the Terai region of Uttar Pradesh, where there still are some Sikhs sympathetic to the Khalistan cause, has been under surveillance for some time. So the presence of two militants, who were shot down by the Delhi police and the NSG, "was not something completely unexpected" in the region, one of them said.
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