Friday, October 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

3,000 mercenaries active in J&K
Jammu, October 18
Despite egress between September 15 and 22 and elimination of over 600 rebels during the past nine months, the number of foreign mercenaries operating in Jammu and Kashmir has not dwindled. According to different government agencies, their number continues to be between 2500 and 3,000.

Use of charcoal by troops alarms NGOs
Jammu, October 18
With the mercury dropping, truckloads of hard and soft charcoal are on their way from the Jammu railhead to Srinagar for enabling government employees, civilians and troops to keep their rooms and barracks warm. With the arrival of scores of truckloads packed with charcoal, environmentalists and NGOs are worried over the sudden rise in air pollution.

JeM warns of more suicide attacks
Srinagar, October 18
Close on the heels of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) threatening to step up violence, another Pakistan-based militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad has warned of more suicide attacks in India.

‘Black day’ observed
Jammu, October 18
Schools and colleges in Jammu remained closed for the third day today as students observed “black day” to pay homage to four students killed in police firing here 35 years ago.


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3,000 mercenaries active in J&K
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 18
Despite egress between September 15 and 22 and elimination of over 600 rebels during the past nine months, the number of foreign mercenaries operating in Jammu and Kashmir has not dwindled. According to different government agencies, their number continues to be between 2500 and 3,000.

Official reports said when the American Government announced its war against global terrorism on September 12, following terrorist strikes against key targets in America on September 11, Pakistani agencies were unnerved and decided to recall foreign mercenaries. The reports said the first batch of foreign mercenaries crossed over to Pakistan on September 15 and the egress continued till September 22.

The agencies directed the foreign mercenaries to stay put in Jammu and Kashmir after Islamabad was convinced that the American strikes was limited to Afghanistan and the US Government had no plan to interfere in Kashmir terrorism. The reports said soon after September 22, egress was not only halted, but the rate of infiltration registered a step-up.

Government reports have revealed that between September 15 and 22, at least 200 foreign mercenaries, most of them Afghan guerrillas, crossed over to Pakistan, a majority of them from Poonch and Rajouri sectors.

After September 23, more than 800 militants were pushed into the state. Earlier, the Pakistani agencies had assisted only those Kashmiri militants who had completed their arms training in camps across the border in sneaking into Jammu and Kashmir, but during the past three weeks, a large number of Pakistani militants have crossed over to the Jammu and Kashmir sector.

As a result of fresh infiltration, the number of foreign mercenaries has not gone down and has remained at 2500-3,000. According to the reports the Lashkar-e-Toiba is on the top with over 1800 activists in the outfit. This is followed by the Jash-e-Mohammad with more than 700 guerrillas, the Harkatul Jehadi Islami (100 to 150) and the Jamaitul Mujahideen (100 to 150).

Reports received from across the border said soon after the American threat, Pakistan folded all training camps situated close to the LoC and the IB but these were reopened at different places.

In addition to this, the number of trainees in such camps was reduced to keep off the element of suspicion. The reports said there were 150 training camps with a capacity to train 5,000 militants. There were 35 camps near the Afghan border which had been shut down after the American strikes on Kabul, Kandahar and adjoining areas.

The largest number of camps, in 25 number are being run in Muzaffarabad, capital of occupied Kashmir. Among these centres those at Nashri, Lohar, Kot Jamal are important arms training centres for Kashmiri youths. Camps located across Rajouri and other belts of Poonch, including those in Sensa, Khureta, Rawalakot and Lanjot have been training over 300 youths every three months.

Among the militant outfits which have local domination, the Hizbul Mujahideen is on the top with over 1500 recruits. This is followed by other smaller outfits and the number of local militants active in the state is placed around 3,000.

The government reports said that since infiltration from across the LoC continued, the total number of militants had remained between 5,000-6,000.
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Use of charcoal by troops alarms NGOs
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 18
With the mercury dropping, truckloads of hard and soft charcoal are on their way from the Jammu railhead to Srinagar for enabling government employees, civilians and troops to keep their rooms and barracks warm.

With the arrival of scores of truckloads packed with charcoal, environmentalists and NGOs are worried over the sudden rise in air pollution.

On an average, hard and soft coal of the value of over Rs 15 crore, as per a survey conducted by environmentalists, is used for six months in Badamibagh cantonment and in state and central government offices and public sector corporations located on a stretch extending from Sonawar to Panthachowk on the national highway.

Though the distance between Sonawar to Panthachowk is less than 3 km, the volume of black smoke emanating from at least 10,000 bukharis (coal stoves) in the cantonment and from the government offices and private residential houses continues to be a major threat to environment in the entire Srinagar city. In the cantonment area and in some guest houses and hotels charcoal is kept “live” round the clock.

Some NGOs had taken the initiative of persuading the Army and those manning different government departments to check air pollution. But their efforts remained confined to meetings with senior state government officers.

The environmentalists have suggested to the authorities concerned to replace coal “bukharis” with kerosene stoves.
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JeM warns of more suicide attacks

Srinagar, October 18
Close on the heels of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) threatening to step up violence, another Pakistan-based militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad has warned of more suicide attacks in India.

The central command of the Jaish-e-Mohammad has decided to intensify suicidal attacks in retaliation to the “indiscriminate” shelling on civilian population by Indian troops in Akhnoor and Mendhar sectors and the threat by the VHP to construct Ram Temple at Ayodhya, a statement of the outfit said today.

The statement, which appeared in a local newspaper, said Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, Parliament and assemblies besides Indian Army installations would be targeted in the new wave of attacks.

Meanwhile, a military spokesman for outfit Abu Hamza denied that the name of the outfit was changed to Tehreek-ul-Furqan.

“The name of the group has remained the Jaish-e-Mohammad. It is still the same and it will remain so,” Hamza said in the statement. PTI
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‘Black day’ observed

Jammu, October 18
Schools and colleges in Jammu remained closed for the third day today as students observed “black day” to pay homage to four students killed in police firing here 35 years ago.

October 16 to 18 are observed as “black days” every year to protest the killing of the students who were agitating against the shifting of an agricultural college from Jammu to Kashmir. UNI
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