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July 14, 1999
Post-Kargil, Centre tries to bolt the stable door in J&K
George Iype in New Delhi
Notwithstanding India's victory over Pakistan in flushing out infiltrators from the Kargil hills, the government anticipates a resurgence of militant activity in Jammu and Kashmir as hundreds of Pakistan-backed terrorists have sneaked into the state in the past six months.
According to the ministry of home affairs, as part of launching the conflict in Kargil, Pakistan has sent as many as 1,500 militants into different parts of Jammu and Kashmir in the last few months.
Trained by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence, the militants' mission is to spread terrorism and step up secessionist activities in the state. The government believes that post-Kargil, the ISI's main objective in India will be to keep alive Pakistan's Kashmir movement.
Officials said the militants' strike at the Border Security Force in Bandipore on Tuesday was the first sign of a renewal of a fresh spurt of terrorism in the state.
In the last 24 hours, Home Minister L K Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes have held a series of meetings with top officials to plan what officials said was a new security strategy for Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the Bandipore incident.
"India may have won the battle in Kargil, but we fear the resurgence of militancy in Kashmir. Therefore the need of the hour is to chalk out a new law and order and security set-up for the whole of Jammu and Kashmir," a senior MHA official looking after counter-insurgency operations told rediff.com
Nearly 17,000 innocent people and more than 8,000 militants have died ever since Pakistan unleashed the proxy war in Kashmir against India in 1988.
To ensure that the killing spree does not spread across the state, the official said, the government is implementing a three-tier security grid.
The new security strategy being evolved under Advani's direction is an attempt to make sure that Kashmir does not slip into another spell of militancy, post-Kargil. "The effort is to ensure that the Kargil conflict does not have its after-effects in Kashmir," the official added.
Soon after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took office in March 1998, the MHA had chalked out several plans and Advani was personally overseeing a "pro-active and hot pursuit policy" in Kashmir.
But militant killings continued unabated across the state. Despite the strict measures the government proposed, it could not check Pakistani infiltration, which finally snowballed into the conflict in Kargil.
Therefore, officials said the fresh security strategy involves setting up hundreds of new operational, defence and border pickets covering all the districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Currently, for instance, the whole of Jammu region has only 240 pickets which are manned by a mere 900 policemen. The request for more forces to patrol and rush troops to the mountain heights was a long-standing demand of the state government headed by Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.
Official sources said now that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is "getting out of control," the government will deploy a large number of para-military and armed forces permanently to man strategic pickets across the state.
The government is considering sanctioning at least Rs 2.5 billion to modernise the state police force in Jammu and Kashmir and to arm the village defence committees.
The MHA and the defence ministry are also in the final stages of setting up an intelligence network across Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that Kargil is not repeated elsewhere.
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