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Be cautious during anti-terror operations, army advised
Josy Joseph in New Delhi |
June 04, 2003 02:16 IST
Seasoned anti-terrorist operatives within the government, including several army officers, are advising caution and warning of possible human rights violations, as the army steps up its operations against 'terror enclaves' in Jammu and Kashmir.
The army got into a bind recently when it admitted to the existence of such enclaves during its media relations exercise on Operation Sarp Vinash.
A section of the media had questioned how the terrorists were able to establish such enclaves in the first place. Many reports had suggested intelligence failure on part of the army.
Those who oppose army action said it might stymie the peace process initiated in the state.
"Remarks by some army officers and media reports about (operations against) terror enclaves reflect an utter ignorance about the ground reality," said a senior army officer, who has commanded some major army formations in the Kashmir valley.
Experienced officers involved in anti-terrorist operations told rediff.com that it was and will be impossible to distinguish a terrorist from an ordinary citizen in remote locations during ordinary patrols.
"Unless he takes the gun and points at you, how can you make out he is a terrorist? They mix around with the villagers, who out of fear wouldn't tell you anything," a senior officer said.
The officer also added that the army 'hardly has any humint (human intelligence)', as people do not want to risk their lives by going against the terrorists.
He admitted that it was possible that even among the over 60 terrorists killed in Hill Kaka area near Surankot some could be 'innocent bakarwals or Gujjars'. Fear of terrorists and security forces, he added, has made these migratory people 'meek'.
Army officers said whenever they carry out patrol in such far-flung areas, terrorists pretend as if they are migrants out to graze their cattle.
He also said the migratory population builds temporary bunkers like the ones that were found in Surankot during Operation Sarp Vinash.
Another army officer said it was also possible that the terrorists in Hill Kaka region made use of the locals for procuring ration. "They (migrants) have to cooperate (with terrorists) as there is no other way out," he said.