Senior officials say LeT chief Hafiz Saeed’s dwindling powers have catapulted JeM’s Masood Azhar to greater strength, which has led to his terrorist outfit being sheltered increasingly by Pakistan
New Delhi: Close to Peshawar in Pakistan lies Darra Adam Khel, a market, which intelligence units in India claim is fuelling the militancy problem in Kashmir. This market is the hub of cheap weapons—AK47s, rifles, automatic and semi-automatic revolvers—where neither licences nor fat wallets are required to buy arms.
“Funding is not a problem for militant groups and neither is acquiring weapons. They have sources who pay a visit to Darra Adam Khel and buy arms at very cheap rates and supply them to the militant organisations along the India-Pakistan border," said a senior intelligence officer, who did not wish to be named.
The official added that the guns, which are cheap Chinese copies, are available in this market at a fraction of their cost elsewhere.
While the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Indian Army’s vigil along the International Border (IB) in Rajasthan and the Line of Control in the north has proven to be deterrents against cross-border weapons smuggling, it has failed to deter militants from acquiring arms and ammunition.
“It is no secret that Pakistan has the wherewithal to finance the militant groups and the separatist leaders in India. The funding is easy and Pakistan continues to do so. Once weapons have been acquired, it is rampantly used against security forces in India," the official added.
The fidayeen attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) affiliate on a BSF camp near Srinagar airport on 3 October has had alarm bells ringing across India’s intelligence units. Not only have intelligence officials warned against more fidayeen attacks in the future, but they have also cautioned against a bloody summer in 2018 in Kashmir.
Senior government officials stated that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed’s dwindling powers have catapulted Masood Azhar to greater strength, which has led to the JeM being sheltered increasingly by Pakistan. With the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Hizbul Mujahideen decapitated and rudderless due to a lack of strong leadership in Kashmir, JeM will prove to be a challenge.
“At the moment, the security forces have managed to contain groups such as the LeT and the Hizbul Mujahideen. These two groups are buckling under pressure. Hafiz Saeed is losing ground too. But Masood Azhar is a threat to reckon with and we must not take the JeM lightly. The Srinagar airbase narrowly escaped this time and we are keeping a close watch on any possible future targets," said a senior central government official.
While home ministry statistics show that 135 militants have been killed in Kashmir this year till 31 July, security forces have stated that more than 250 militants—both home grown (from Kashmir) and from Pakistan-based and sponsored militant groups such as the JeM—continue to remain holed up in the Valley.
Defence experts stated that security forces had their work cut out.
“The situation is infinitely better than it was in the 1990s. As opposed to 1,500-1,800 militants who used to be holed up in the valley then, there are now just about 250. But it is still a challenge and security forces will continue to deal with the problem effectively," said H.S. Panag, a former lieutenant general of the Indian Army.
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