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March 3, 2000


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E-Mail this column to a friend Varsha Bhosle

The Lanjot village massacre

From 25 February to date, the Pakistani media have been seized with just one item, ie, aggression by the Indian Army. We in India know little about it, busy as we are with our own brand of democracy, as manifested by Laloo's victory and the calibre of the BJP candidates behind bars in Bihar. The incredible story goes like this: Indian commandos crossed into PoK and killed 14 civilians; eleven died on the spot and five were critically wounded, three of whom died later. The dead, aged 2 to 90 years, included 6 women and 5 children. Three men had been decapitated, and one had both his arms hacked off at the shoulders. The Dawn wrote that some had "deep dagger wounds in their skulls."

According to Pakistan's Brig Dilshad Hussain Malik, the commander of the Nakyal sector, Indian troops crossed over at midnight into Lanjot village, 150 yards from the LC, while Paki soldiers were facing the heavy firing deliberately started by us. Three shells landed close to the site of the massacre, and about 15 Indian commandos in combat fatigues entered the house, shooting all the way: "They started slaughtering the inmates with bayonets and guns. 'I tried to escape but was shot at,' said Younas, whose wife and 7-year-old daughter were among the dead."

Thereafter, the protest demonstrations began, in Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Nakyal, Tatta Pani, etc. State minister Ishaq Zafar called upon the international community to "stop Indian terrorism in Kashmir"; that the world "must immediately intervene to resolve the Kashmir dispute which was endangering peace in South Asia." Imams in Friday congregations condemned the killings and urged the people to "speed up Jehad to rid Kashmir of Indian troops." Thereafter, Operation Propaganda began. Look, it may seem boring, but scan through:

* Brig Dilshad Malik said there were growing concerns of more conflict this year: "I am not ruling out the chance that they [India] could go for a limited war in Kashmir."

* Former COAS Gen Mirza Aslam Beg said that India wants to occupy areas of PoK (what they call "AJK" for "Azad J&K"). "There is every possibility of a limited war [between] Pakistan and India as tension at Line of Control is mounting. Indian designs will not be limited to Azad Kashmir once the war starts. War will be taken to international borders as India has deployed Prithvi missiles in Julandhar, Jotpur (sic)." Beg asserted that the massacre indicated that India wants to harass civilians living along LoC and occupy areas of PoK.

* Former vice-COAS Gen Khalid Mehmood Arif: "It is a State-sponsored act of terrorism by Indian army... This intrusion of Indian troops indicates that the LoC does not have any sanctity. Sooner the LoC goes, the better it will be for Pakistan and Kashmiris... This barbaric act should dissuade President Clinton from visiting such a country [India]."

* Columnist Kamal Matiuddin remarked that the Indian army's "brutal operation seemed to be part of New Delhi's well-conceived strategy to raise tension before the visit of President Clinton to the region... It is a provocative act meant to instigate Pakistan and shift the blame on Islamabad for raising tension in the region..."

* PoK "PM" Sultan Chaudhry called upon the UN to intervene and get its resolutions on the Kashmir dispute implemented at the earliest.

* Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, chief of the Muslim Conference, said the infiltration of the Indian commandos and perpetual shelling along the LC were indication of an undeclared war.

* On 29 February, rallies and demonstrations were held on the fourth consecutive day across PoK after the strike call was given by the APHC. The Muzaffarabad rally was addressed by the acting PoK "PM," who urged Clinton to visit Pakistan, PoK and J&K.

* The students and teachers of the Sehaili Sarkar Higher Secondary School held a rally. At the UN observers office, the principal of the Girls Degree College and two other teachers delivered a protest note addressed to the UN chief Kofi Annan.

* Imram Khan, chief bimbo of Tehreek-i-Insaf Pakistan, said the government should take "the threats hurled by Indian leaders seriously and mobilize public opinion against any possible Indian misadventure."

And then, in The Dawn of March 1, this: "At least 11 persons, including four women and a girl were wounded in overnight Indian shelling from across the cease-fire line in different sectors of Azad Kashmir... The Indians started heavy shelling of Karen bypass, proper Athmuqam town, Shahkot, Lala and other villages in Neelum valley, northeast of Muzaffarabad..."

All in all, the stage was being set by Pakistan to accuse India of armed provocations, in order to not only persuade Wild Bill to visit his serf country, but also justify future transgressions of the LC. The unanimous warnings against India are overtures made via the media -- and they must be understood as such by normal Indians. As the Shroud and her sevak-jan and our pinkos are likely to, it just won't do to speak out against the Indian security forces on this issue. Only a fool would be unable to grasp the orchestration behind all these different Paki entities speaking in one voice.

However, whatever suspicions I may have had -- and I had none -- were firmly put to rest by a Jung dispatch which linked the threat of a limited war launched by India to Subbu Mama's recommendations in the Kargil Committee Report. The Committee has asked New Delhi to retaliate Pakistan's continued support to terrorists with prompt action "in a manner, time and place of India's choosing." Point is, the massacre in Lanjot village took place on the night of 24 February -- on the night of the day when extracts of the Kargil report were out. I read them before their publication in newspapers; couldn't have Pakistan...? The Jung report states, "The recommendation of the Kargil Committee assumed significance in the light of the incident that took place in Lanjot Kainthi village near the LoC in Azad Kashmir... on the night between Thursday and Friday." No, no, NO; the *massacre* assumes significance in the light of the recommendation! It's a set-up.

How long does it take for seasoned transgressors to plan and kill 14 poor and unarmed citizens, anyway? Of course, the Lanjot massacre is a conspiracy on the part of Pakistan! Had they succeeded in convincing the world about it -- haven't, yet -- they would have killed two birds with one stone: One, to portray India as one Big Bad Mamma. Two, to create a terror situation near the LC on their own side, so as to ensure that the locals do not have any reservations about the Pakistan military using them as conduits for infiltrating militants through their villages. For, a fact few know is that the civilians in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir are *not* co-operating with the Paki military efforts to infiltrate militants. Even in the Northern Areas, there is absolute resentment and unrest developing amongst the locals. It is a neglected area where the Pakistan government does not even re-cycle one-fifth of the fund they collect from the region.

The Jung report indicated that Pakistan is hopping on hot coals because of Subbu Mama's assertion, given at a press conference, that henceforth, India should not heed international cries calling for restraint: "Whenever there is intrusion along the LoC, India should have the right to retaliate." Asked if the recommendation amounted to the army crossing the LC, he had said, "it should be left to the local commander to decide, whether crossing to other side in pursuit of retaliation was necessary." Furthermore, the one extract from the Kargil Report that Jung deigned to reproduce -- how shocking it must have seemed! -- was this: "Pakistan and the world must know that India's defence of the integrity of its own territory, including that within its own side of the LoC, is not and cannot be held to be escalators and that the aggressor and his victim cannot be bracketed and placed on par."

It makes me wonder, does Pakistan believe that India's security forces won't take appropriate measures to combat Pak-sponsored terrorist activities...? And I said "security forces" -- not "government." The i report quoted an APHC spokesman condemning the attack by, haha, Indian commandos: "They are disseminating malicious information through their media about the happenings in Kashmir. And the incident of crossing over the LoC and killing of innocent civilians have once again proved that New Delhi speaks the language of violence." Am I in Alice's Wonderland or is Hurriyat really ruing violence? And, New Delhi speaking the language of violence?? Did Mahatma Gandhi speak violence? Will Mahatma Vajpayee speak violence? Hey, he just had his pet minister safely deliver Masood Azhar, when the least the PM could have done was to ask Vladimir Putin to provide us with some nice, slow-acting poison to inject into the bastard before releasing him! Arrrrrgh, even Pakis have no clue what Indians -- especially those who taste power -- are all about.

Masood brings me to another Paki transgression -- and pay heed, for this is sets the seal on the fact of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism: The Pakistani military has begun to impart training to militants in the army's designated training areas and field firing ranges. Although such measures have been adopted by them in the past, yet the procedures adopted were not as overt, as evident from recent intelligence reports reaching India.

In early February, approximately 65 militants reached a Paki field firing range called Tilla FFR, located 15 kms west of Jhelum, south-west of Mirpur in PoK. Also, a dozen militants have been carrying out training with the Pak army west of Hazira. Authentic reports have revealed that a Strike Corps has instructed the officer-in-charge of Tilla FFR to provide adequate communication facilities to ISI elements being trained at the ranges. Competitions in firing are being organised for militants under the aegis of their military instructors at the FFRs. These competitions are in sniper fire and firing AK-47s. Besides, old militants are being reorganised into re-supply groups.

Intelligence sources have also revealed that the Corps Intelligence Battalions of Pakistan 1 and 10 Corps have been given the responsibility of infiltration into and exfiltration from J&K. About 350 militants, after having successfully completed training, including battle inoculation with the Pakistani army at Tilla FFR, have been moved to unidentified locations. Some militants are even being trained to control artillery fire. The group identifications of the militants are: Masood Group, Mufti Group, Elias Group, Bashir Group, Alkam Group.

Now why is this mumbo-jumbo, always done by the Pakis anyway, important now, you may ask. Well, look behind the obvious: Overt efforts are being made by the Pakistan military junta to train the militants in the army's special training areas, under the instructorship of the Pakistani military. Meaning, the imparting of training to the militants and ISI agents in FFRs, which are essentially meant to train personnel in firing of heavy weapons and undergoing battle inoculation... As I've explained in the CIJWS pieces, battle inoculation by itself is a special training based on an exercise which puts the trainees through live firing, making them battle hardened and getting the trainees the feel of going through a barrage of fire of all heavy weapon systems. The implications are plain: the militants and ISI personnel are being trained to infiltrate through a barrage of artillery and other heavy fire, which the Pakistani military resort to at will to occupy some unheld piece of ground while being supported by the army's artillery fire. In short, expect more intensified attacks on Indians by the Masood Group...

Varsha Bhosle

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