Wednesday, February 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Militants get war training in Pak
From Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 22 — One year from Kargil, Pakistan has changed its strategy in regard to the militants and has now been training them to face a war and operate even in war-like situations.

In what could be an indicator of the subversives waging almost a war against the security forces, intelligence reports point out that the militants, who were earlier being trained to operate only the AK-47 rifles or using the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were now being trained in the vast ‘Field Firing Ranges’ (FFR) of Pakistan to specialise in handling heavy weapons and even to operate under the barrage of fire from heavy and other weapon systems. The militants were being trained in artillery firing and battle innoculation.

Reports say the sporadic firing which the Pakistan army resorts to all along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir is actually also being done as a training exercise for the militants. They are now being trained to handle weapons like rocket launchers, 103 mm guns and other field guns and even the firing of mortars.

Besides, the militants were being imparted with specialised training to operate under heavy weapon firing which would also enable them to cross over into India even during heavy exchange of firing between the armies of the two countries.

Intelligence reports say approximately 350 militants had already completed this specialised training by Pakistani military and had been moved to unidentified locations. They had been trained even to control the artillery firing and would form the frontline group in any war-like situation again.

Sources said in early February, about 65 militants had reached an FFR at Tilla, located 15 km west of the Jhelum which is also south-west of Mirpur in Pakistan, for this specialised training. In addition, a dozen militants were reportedly carrying out training along with the Pakistani military west of Hazira.

Reports say a Pak Strike Corps had instructed officer-in-charge of the Tilla-FFR to also provide adequate communication facilities to the ISI elements being trained at these ranges. There are also indications that old militants are being reorganised into resupply groups.

Following the intelligence input the Indian Army has reached a conclusion that since now the militants were being imparted training in the FFRs, which are essentially meant to train personnel in firing of heavy weapons, they were undergoing battle innoculation. The process itself is a training based on an exercise which puts the trainees through live firing, making them battle hardened and getting them to have a feel of going through a barrage of fire of all heavy and other weapon systems.


5 killed in Pak shelling on border village
Tribune News Service and PTI

SRINAGAR, Feb 22 — At least five persons were killed and six others were wounded when Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked shelling in Tangdhar village in North Kashmir district of Kupwara yesterday.

A defence spokesman said here today that three houses and seven shops were also damaged in the firing by Pakistani troops from across the LoC. At least 500 rounds of artillery and mortars were fired by the enemy troops on the village between 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, the spokesman said.

“Since the people of Tangdhar do not lend support to the Pak proxy

war in Jammu and Kashmir, they have been targeted by the Pakistani troops deliberately. Such acts of frustration by Pakistan highlight to the world its conceit when talking of being a well wisher of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”, the defence spokesman stated.

There has been an increase in shelling from across the border by Pak troops over the past one week. Two women were killed and some others were injured when Pakistani troops fired shells in the Karnah area of Kupwara district last week.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of North Kashmir districts of Baramula and Kupwara, Dilbagh Singh, told PTI that Pakistani shelling continued throughout the night with Tangdhar, Dani, Nogabra and Nachyaan remaining the main targets.

However, there was no report of migration of residents from the affected areas, the police chief said adding Indian troops were strongly retaliating to the Pakistani shelling.

The shelling also destroyed seven workshops of the MES of the Army.

Meanwhile, four persons including a top militant of the Lashkar-e-Toiba were killed in Jammu and Kashmir during the past two days in separate incidents.

An organiser of Lashkar-e-Toiba militant outfit was killed in an encounter with the Special Operation Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police in the Lal Chowk area this afternoon. He was identified as Ghulam Mohiuddin Najar from the Lolab area in Kupwara district and was “functioning as an organiser of the Lshakar-e-Toiba, motivating youth to join militancy” a police spokesman said here this evening. One pistol was recovered from the possession of the deceased militant, the police said.

Giving details of the incident, a police spokesman said a patrol party of the SOG was fired upon by a militant in the Court Road area resulting in injuries to an SPO. “In a swift action, the SOG party returned fire and killed the terrorist on the spot”. He added that Ghulam Mohiuddin Najar was district commander of the Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen in 1996 and was arrested. After his release he became an organiser of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

One militant was killed in an encounter with the security forces at Kund (Arnas) village in Udhampur district. He was identified as Ibrar Hussain of the same area. One AK Rifle, three magazines, 63 rounds of ammunition and one hand grenade were recovered from his possession.

JAMMU: One person was injured in a landmine explosion in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said here today.

They said a landmine exploded in the border belt of Nowshera in Rajouri yesterday seriously injuring one person.

Hours later another blast was reported from the Noka area of Balakote in which no one was injured, the sources added.

They said landmines were laid along the entire border for about five km to prevent infiltration of armed ultras into Poonch, Rajouri and Jammu sectors, adding villagers had been cautioned to keep away from these areas.


2 ISI agents held, top secret papers seized
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

ATTARI, Feb 22 — Two ISI agents were arrested at the Attari Railway Station here yesterday. They had arrived here through the Samjhauta Express.

Though the Customs and intelligence agencies were tight-lipped and refused to give details yet they confirmed that top secret documents pertaining to the national security were seized from their possession.

According to reports, the ISI agents were travelling on forged passports. The Customs officials found the top secret documents between the two layers of a bag which the agents were carrying. In the wake of the ‘proxy war’ declared by Pakistan, the Customs officials nowadays thoroughly search and even tear the luggage and break open all items at the slightest suspicion.

When contacted by TNS, Mr D.S. Sra, Commissioner, Customs, refused to give details about the documents seized saying, “This is a highly sensitive matter pertaining to the national security. Any detail could hamper the investigations.” He, however, confirmed that the arrests were made at the time of Customs clearance.

Mr Sra further said that he was unable to give the details as his department was not “directly” related to the investigations. Mr M.S.

Arora, Joint Commissioner, also declined to give the details about the documents seized from the ISI agents. Mr Amrish Jain, Deputy Commissioner, Customs (Preventive), also confirmed that the matter was under investigation but he said details could be made available at an appropriate time only.

According to sources, apart from officials of sister agencies working at the Attari Railway Station, top officers of Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and military (intelligence) reached at the station shortly after the arrests.

The sources said this was the first time that ISI agents carrying top secret documents could be seized at the time of Customs clearance. They said the seizure of these secret documents would make clear the designs of the ISI.

The ISI has stepped up its activities during the post-Kargil era. Apart from pumping fake Indian currency, weapons and narcotics have also been recently seized from the passengers travelling in the Samjhauta Express. The Union Minister of State for Railways, Mr Digvijay Singh, has already indicted the ISI for the fire in Punjab Mail which claimed 18 lives.

A case has been registered against Sub-Inspector (Immigration), Attari, Roop Lal, with the general railway police (GRP) under Sections 7/13/12, Prevention of Corruption Act.

Meanwhile, the sources confirmed that the documents seized from the ISI agents pertained to military installations in India.

Prabhjot Singh adds from Chandigarh: One of the two Pakistan nationals,who were arrested at the Attari Railway Station on Monday was carrying an Indian passport, and was suspected to be belonging to Military Intelligence Geographic, a unit of Pakistan Army.

Though they were apprehended by members of the preventive staff of the Customs department, they were handed over to the security forces for questioning and interrogation.

Investigations reveal that the Customs officials grew suspicious when one of the passengers, Habib-ur-Rehman, carrying an Indian passport, was searched. From the false bottom of his bag, they found another Indian passport.

After finding the second Indian passport the officials decided to conduct a thorough search. They were shocked when they found a large number of maps and information, including unit numbers, locations of Indian armed forces and their deployment.

Preliminary interrogation revealed that his real name was Kamal-ud-Deen Shah and he belonged to Hyderabad in Sind. He holds the rank of a Major in Pakistan army and had specially been trained for espionage work in India.

Maj Kamal-ud-Deen told Customs officials that he worked for the MIG. His sustained interrogation led to the arrest of his accomplice who was also travelling by the same train. The second Pakistani arrested has been identified as Mumtaz Ali, who also reportedly hails from Hyderabad.

When personal search of Mumtaz Ali was conducted, the Customs officials found two more Pakistani passports, which have expired, from his baggage. They also recovered from the inside pocket of his bag yet another set of documents, an exact replica of the documents seized from Major Kamal-ud-Deen. The papers included detailed maps, location of units, formations, and other such details.

As the documents seized did not concern the Customs and Central Excise, the arrested were immediately handed over to Intelligence agencies for questioning and interrogation.

It is perhaps for the first time that spies, including a Major belonging to MI (Geogrpahic) has been apprehended at Attari railhead. The antecedents of the other person are being verified.

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