Tuesday, October 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Ultras switch over to satellite phones
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 13
Terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir are gradually switching over to satellite phones and shunning the traditional walkie talkie wireless sets to communicate with their mentors in Pakistan and their contacts here to prevent the Army from intercepting their transmits.

It is learnt that one of the reasons for the terrorists becoming hi-tech was that through the satellite phones their mentors were in a position to remain in touch with them even in the mountainous terrains and could issue fresh orders for executing strikes anywhere. They have probably experienced that the Indian Army intercepted their messages transmitted on wireless sets and pre-empted their strikes in many cases.

The Army Chief, Gen N.C. Vij, said as many as 15,000 to 20,000 wireless messages of the terrorists were intercepted by the army.

Sources point out that in many cases the radio messages are transmitted just to mislead the security forces. The terrorists were now transmitting messages in codes and were also using secrecy equipment.

Satellite and cellular phones were seized by the security forces from the slain terrorists. They were generally using the SIM cards of a US-based satellite phone company.

According to a spokesman for the Army Headquarters, the communication infrastructure of the terrorists has been restructured to improve the quality and security of communication as also to achieve higher deniability. Some communication control stations in Pakistan have been relocated.

Certain terrorist leaders were also using the Internet and e-mail to communicate with one another. They have reportedly been equipped with lap top computers of high quality by the ISI.

The terrorists, during the past sometime, are believed to have changed their strategy of attacking the security force personnel and have started focusing on civilians and soft targets. As many as 483 civilians have been killed and 892 wounded by the terrorists during the past nine months. As many as 718 terrorism-related violent incidents occurred during the period when 990 militants were gunned down by the security forces.

During visits to various forward positions, it has been noticed that the security personnel were in high spirits due to their upper hand in tackling terrorism. Seventyone terrorists have so far surrendered this year and 269 have been apprehended. However, there was no let-up in the infiltration bids with 83 attempts till September during the current year against 96 last year.

According to a defence spokesman, the ISI has considerably increased the funding to the terrorists as the local boys were now reluctant to join their ranks. About 80 per cent terrorists were of foreign origin which was in total contrast to the earlier pattern.

A terrorist was being paid a lumpsum of Rs 2 lakh prior to infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir and thereafter a monthly remuneration of Rs 25,000 was being paid to each of the commanders and between Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 to the rank and file.

The payment pattern to the local boys joining the terrorist cadres was different as the district commanders were being paid a monthly allowance of Rs 20,000 and the rank and file was paid Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 each.

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