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August 2, 2000
DGP says ceasefire helped him marshall forces
Onkar Singh and Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Hours before the Hizbul chief Syed Salahudin announced his decision not to extend the ceasefire deadline beyond 5 pm, there was a sudden movement of men and material from the Jammu and Kashmir police hq in Srinagar.
The director general of J&K police, Gurbachan Jagat, had foreseen this development and had issued instructions to his officers in various parts of the state to be alert. "We are already on the job," Jagat told rediff.com as news trickled in that the ceasefire had been called off.
Neither Jagat nor his officers are least worried about facing a renewed onslaught from the militants. "When I came to the state three years ago, there were only 30,000 policemen in Jammu and Kashmir. Now we are about 58,000. Then we have home guards, CRPF and other paramilitary forces assisting us in our job. In the last two years we have spent more than Rs 200 crore on modernising the police force and buying lethal weapons. We have developed more information on the militants' hideout and the people who are running the show. All the police stations in Srinagar and elsewhere in the state are now operational. Our officers and jawans are prepared to meet any eventuality," he said.
According to the intelligence inputs provided to the state police, more than 1000 armed militants have crossed over into the valley in the last couple of months. "We have information that more than 1300 armed militants managed to cross over. Some of them came from Rajouri and Poonch sectors which are more easily accessible to them. If you are familiar with the terrain and topography of the state then you would find that it is not possible to prevent infiltration despite our best efforts. We have managed to set up village defence committees. The villages are spread over 5 km areas and some of the houses are 500 metres apart. So the only way to combat militancy is to motivate the people to join VDCs. Then of course we are there to give them protection," Jagat explained as he attended phone call after phone call from his officers who kept him informed about the latest developments from across the border.
How many groups or militants are operating in the state? "You see, the figures really do not matter. There are at least one dozen major militant groups that are operating at any given time. The number of militants operating could vary from time to time. Even if there are 500 armed militants at one given time they could play havoc," he admitted.
He is not willing to buy the argument that militants had announced ceasefire to regroup themselves as part of a grand strategy or that it was a strategy to buy time. "Many of my officers are of this view. I for some reason am not willing to buy it because if the militants or Hizbul wanted time to regroup the cadres then they would have sought extended deadline. I think Salahudin could have been under pressure as he was feeling isolated. Maybe he used the ceasefire as a pressure tactic to get attention from the Pakistani rulers and also reassert his authority over other militant outfits. I was least surprised when the ceasefire offer was withdrawn because the militants are under pressure from the Pakistani government," he said.
On the contrary, the ceasefire had provided Jagat and his men with a much-needed breather to plan their strategy. He has been touring various parts of the state and talking to his officers and jawans to find out the reality on the ground. "I have been touring the state extensively during the last few days to meet my officers. We had prepared two different plans of action, one in case ceasefire was extended and the other if it was not. Now we revert to the second plan of action. What it is, naturally I will not discuss it with the media," he added hastily before he was flooded with spate of phone calls all wanting his urgent attention.
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