The Army in Kashmir: Taking charge.

The Army in Kashmir: Taking charge.

Army eyes on every one helping terrorists; LoC crossings down: GOC

Recruitment of youth by terror groups still a big concern for Indian Army

Agency Report | Srinagar | 17 October, 2020 | 11:00 PM

Each and every person helping terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir has been identified and the person's movements are on the Indian Army's radar. People helping terrorists are known as Over Ground Workers of militants, commonly referred to as OGWs. They act as a lifeline for terrorists and ensure the survival of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 15 Corps General Officer Commanding Lieutenant General B.S. Raju said that there is a small component of Over Ground Workers which is aligned to the cause which is inimical to the armed forces.

“One or two percent of such people drive the agenda. The silent masses suffer because of this small component. OGWs come in all categories. The lot at the end supports logistics, the second echelon provides finances, another echelon gives intellectual support and others have their own roles,” Lt Gen BS Raju said.

He said that all these OGWs are on the radar and are being addressed in some manner.

“Our aim is to tell them it (helping terrorists and terrorism) is not taking them anywhere. What is going to take them forward is bringing in peace, bringing in development and bringing in normalcy,” he said.

In the last three decades, the role of OGWs has evolved from providing basic logistics support to recruitment to carrying out small scale attacks and target executions.

Different OGWs are assigned different tasks, roles and are put in different hierarchy buckets based on various factors such as background, history, skills, tenure, recommendation, performance and trust level.

The OGWs are booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) of Jammu and Kashmir.

The officer explained that 70 years have passed and people have reconciled to the ground reality. “What people want here is just a quality and decent life like anyone else in the world wants. This is the common man’s aspiration in the Valley,” Lt Gen BS Raju said.

He also said that the force has been able to keep the violence level at a threshold where normal people can continue to do their job.

Business or trade or paddy cultivation is on. The agricultural sector is kind of kicking. The apples are going through Banihal as well as Mughal route (Pir Panjal Pass) so that traffic is not blocked.

The officer also said that the Indian Army has been able to keep the terrorists numbers in a fair amount of control. “Today North and South Kashmir put together have 200 which was something like 260. This is because of close synergy we have with other agencies,” he added.
The recruitment of local youth into terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is also a big concern for the Indian Army. This year, 131 youth in all have joined militancy in the Valley so far. Last year, 117 youth had joined terrorism.

“Recruitment of local youth into terrorism is a big concern. I can’t point my finger at just one reason why recruitment is taking place. But I don’t see any major pattern in it,” said Raju.

He said that they hope to reach out in a manner where there could be little reason for the youth to take up arms. “There are large numbers of components which play a part in it. We will do our part to ensure we don’t become a cause for anybody to cross the line,” Lieutenant General Raju said.

“It is a complex issue. It is definitely on our radar and that will remain an important line of action to stop recruitment,” he said.

Out of a total of 131 local youth recruitment into terrorism, 24 happened in North Kashmir and 107 in South Kashmir.

In North Kashmir, 18 youth joined Lashkar-e-Taiba, one joined Hizbul Mujahideen, four Jaish-e-Mohammed and one Islamic State in Jammu and Kashmir (ISJK).

In South Kashmir, 18 youth joined Lashkar-e-Taiba, 57 joined Hizbul Mujahideen, 14 Jaish-e-Mohammed, two Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind and 16 Al Badr.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence is bolstering terror outfit Al Badr to carry out fresh terrorist attacks in Kashmir. Intelligence agencies had stated that Al Badr chief Bakht Zameen had, during a rally in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in June this year, claimed that the outfit would soon emerge as the voice of Kashmir.

It was also found that out of 131 youth recruited into terrorism, 102 belonged to an age group of 16 to 25 years and 29 are above 25 years.

Out of total 131 recruitments, 62 were killed during Indian Army operations, 14 were apprehended and two surrendered. A total 52 of them are still active.

To stop the youth from taking up arms, the Indian Army has started a big-time reach-out programme. “We are engaging with elders, women, girls, boys, students and moulvis (religious preachers). Each one is addressed in a different manner,” Lt Gen B.S. Raju said.

He said that the amount of enthusiasm to participate in the programme gives him high hope. “There was a place in Anantnag where girls played kabaddi,” the officer said.

The youth are waiting for an opportunity to participate. “You gave them an opportunity they will grab it immediately,” he said.

He also said that facilities for entertainment are grossly lacking in the valley. “Saudi Arabia has movie halls, Pakistan has movie halls but Jammu and Kashmir does not want to have movie halls,” he lamented.

The officer added, “I cannot understand the irony”.

Most of the cinema halls in Kashmir were closed in the 1990s due to diktats issued by terrorist groups.
Infiltration along the Line of Control with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir has reduced substantially, said Raju, pointing that a lot of efforts, including use of drones, have been put in by ground troops to dominate the area.

The Line of Control is a de facto border between India and Pakistan in the region of Kashmir.

Last year, there were 130 infiltrations that took place and this year 27 have been reported till date.

The 15 Corps General Officer Commanding Lieutenant General B.S. Raju said that on Line of Control things are “quiet”. “We have been able to stop infiltration substantially. That’s a combination of a lot of efforts put in by ground troops to dominate the area,” said the officer adding that additional strength has been placed along the infiltration grid.

“We have given them additional surveillance, more technology. We are using drones to monitor the movement of people. Both big and small drones,” he said.

The officer explained that there is no desire on part of Pakistan to stop infiltration. “The attempts of infiltration are continuing,” Lt Gen B.S. Raju said.

Now, the forces are getting inputs that Pakistan-based terrorists are telling the ISI that they are unable to cross the Line of Control.

There are reports coming in that terrorists are saying that they are making efforts to cross the Line of Control but are being blocked. They want to return to the terror launch pads but Pakistan is saying there is no coming back and pushes them to go forward.

As far as ceasefire violations are concerned there was a little peak but the scale has come down, the officer said. The calibre escalation is kept in control. This helps in the counter-infiltration grid. It also gives respite to our own population. We had some fatal casualties also. However, the Line of Control remains in control,” he said.

India has placed a multi-tiered infiltration grid along Line of Control. “We have made the first grid very strong. If the first grid is strong it will help in stopping the infiltration and it also gives a chance of detecting infiltration,” he said.

The officer explained that once the people can flag that infiltration has happened, the second grid becomes active and the routes are blocked and hunting for them starts.

“We have made more deployments at the first grid and also put in low-cost surveillance equipment along the 407.31 km fences,” Lt Gen Raju added.

This has resulted in more detection leading to foiling infiltration attempts. (IANS)