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Punjab attack: No evidence that terrorists used Ravi river route, says BSF

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By Jaideep Sarin and Parminder Bariana

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Gurdaspur (Punjab):  Despite Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement in parliament that the three terrorists who launched the attack in Dinanagar town of Punjab’s Gurdaspur district on July 27 had entered India by crossing the Ravi river along the India-Pakistan border, doubts are now being raised about the authenticity of the GPS (global positioning system) coordinates recovered from the killed militants.

“We have not found any evidence of the terrorists using the route (as indicated by the GPS coordinates),” BSF Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police N.K. Mishra told IANS.

Sources in the Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the India-Pakistan border 24×7, pointed out that no traces of the movement of terrorists through the Ravi river route and beyond have been found which could establish that they entered from the Makoda area of Bamiyal sector of Gurdaspur district.

The area borders Pakistan on the west and Jammu and Kashmir on the north.

“It is impossible that no traces were left by the terrorists while crossing the well-guarded river or footmarks on the river bank or even crawling tracks in the wild growth (Sarkanda) in the area.” a BSF source, involved in investigating and tracking the route taken by the terrorists, told IANS in this frontier sector.

“The GPS coordinates found on the equipment recovered from the terrorists could be misleading,” he added.

BSF officers feel that the terrorists could have entered through some place in adjoining Jammu and Kashmir and later arrived in Punjab.

BSF officials also point out that even if the GPS coordinates were to be believed, it was impossible for the terrorists to traverse the terrain so quickly and reach Dinanagar for carrying out the attack.

As per the GPS coordinates recovered, the terrorists entered through the Ravi river in Makoda area and moved along Narowal, Bala Pindi, Chak Alla Baksh (all in Pakistan), railway track near Talwandi village, Chottu Nath Mandir, Dinanagar to Taragarh road, near village Jakhar Pindi to SSM College in Dinanagar.

It was believed that the terrorists followed this route on the intervening night of July 26-27, planted bombs on the railway track near Parmanand railway station and then moved to Dinanagar town for the attack.

The BSF sent a team of its troopers on the route and found that the team took over six hours to reach the railway track alone. This did not include the time taken to cross the river, which is not easy to cross either, and planting of bombs on the railway track.

The attack in Dinanagar started around 5.25 am. The terrorists engaged security forces in an over 11-hour long gun-battle before being neutralized by the Punjab Police.

“The GPS coordinates could have been loaded on the sets to mislead security agencies. The terrain is not easy to move freely. Even otherwise, how could such heavily armed terrorists not be seen by anyone all along even though it was night time,” one officer said.

The Ravi river has Cobra electric wires and the river is guarded round-the-clock with motorboats, day and night devices and floodlights. The river, in the current monsoon season, has a heavy flow of water.

The electrified, barbed wire fencing along the border has also not been breached in the sector, BSF sources said.

(IANS)

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Centre Succeeding in Effectively Neutralising Militants and Pro- Pak Elements in J&K

The dilemma for the government in Kashmir is that unless the externally aided trouble makers were rendered ineffective, they would continue to keep

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Militants, Pak, J&K
It is hoped the Centre and the state administration together are succeeding in effectively neutralising the militants and pro- Pak elements in J&K who had had a free run of the place earlier and who basically provided the raison detre for the Indian move. Pixabay

Prime Minister Modi once again spent Diwali with our Army Jawans in Jammu & Kashmir — at Rajauri — acknowledging the role of the army in keeping the threat of cross border terrorism in check and sending out the message that Kashmir was now fully integrated with the country. The abrogation of Art 370 by Indian Parliament on August 5 last, with a simultaneous clampdown on the assembly of people through out the state of J&K, has over these three months not altered the tenor of response from the world community that had shown, from India’s point of view, a considerable degree of understanding of the compelling reasons behind the move of the Modi regime.

There is, however, a gathering chorus of voices at home and abroad demanding expeditious return to normalcy of civil life in the state. It is hoped the Centre and the state administration together are succeeding in effectively neutralising the militants and pro- Pak elements in J&K who had had a free run of the place earlier and who basically provided the raison detre for the Indian move. The dilemma for the government in Kashmir is that unless the externally aided trouble makers were rendered ineffective, they would continue to keep the Kashmiris under a cloak of fear by carrying out stray acts of violence and prevent normalisation of business, educational and health-related activities.

It is not yet clear if the state administration and police — the collector and the station house officers in particular — had started reaching out to the people on the ground to build their morale as free citizens and get them to respond to the calibrated steps of the government to lift prohibitory orders. If local militants could still appear in mohallas and lanes to warn the people to do just their ‘minimal’ chores and not cooperate in the wider process of normalisation then it is evident that a lot more had to be done.

The army has to focus on eliminating the mujahideen, foreign or local, but the state administration must fulfil its primary responsibility of helping the citizens to feel normal about running their lives. Illicit guns and explosives had to be neutralised through sustained flow of Intelligence from below — the state Intelligence machinery had to produce more. If Pak agents had to be rounded up even in hundreds and moved out of the state, if necessary, this would be an acceptable part of the process of restoring normalcy. It is the detention of political leaders of the Valley, however, that has led the Human Rights advocates to set off the false narrative of ‘suppression of the people’. The government could consider progressively setting them free of any restraint on the condition that they would not indulge in ‘political activity’ — as mandated by the Supreme Court itself. Senior officers of the state should make this position clear to the leaders of the Valley parties and should let the country know about the reasonableness of the government stand.

Militants, Pak, J&K
There is, however, a gathering chorus of voices at home and abroad demanding expeditious return to normalcy of civil life in the state. Pixabay

The handling of the Kashmir situation has a macro perspective and a more important micro dimension — the former has worked out extremely well but the latter is the ongoing challenge facing the state administration. The district headquarter should become the fulcrum of development and people’s security. Every member of the state set-up must be made to understand that ‘security for all’ required a ‘contribution from all’ by way of those in the government acting as the eyes and ears of the democratic state against the doings of anti-national elements. The current state of affairs in J&K arose because the corrupt leaders of Valley parties remained silent over the launch of Kashmir Jehad by Pak ISI, colluded with separatists to stay in power and ignored the agents of Pakistan who organised civic disturbances to destabilise the state.

These leaders never asserted that Kashmir was not a ‘Muslim’ issue — a claim made by Pakistan — since the integral state was home to Hindus, Buddhists and Christians in large numbers. They deliberately brought in Pakistan as a factor in the democratic internal governance of the state simply because this helped to divert attention from their misrule and corruption. Now, under the LG regime, development should be taken to the people and deeper enquiries should be made into the disproportionate assets acquired by the local political leaders, in appropriate cases. Normalcy will return to J&K when its administration will come into full play and the state would be seen as being governed from Srinagar, not Delhi.

As mentioned earlier, India’s security and foreign policies have held well in the context of Kashmir — the Oct 22 proceedings of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs proving it as much. American acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs, Alice Wells, told the committee that the US supported the Indian government’s stated objectives for scrapping the special status of J&K — thus affirming that the development was an internal matter of India — and went on record to make it clear that while a dialogue between India and Pakistan was the most effective way of reducing bilateral tensions this was contingent on Islamabad taking ‘sustained and irreversible steps’ against terrorists on its soil. This coordinates with India’s policy stand that ‘terror and talks could not go together’ and turns Pakistan’s plea that terrorists were ‘non state actors’ on its head by questioning that country’s failure to chase the militant outfits out of their safe havens, if indeed they did not enjoy any state patronage.

The US concerns for an early return of the Kashmiris to normal day-to-day life represent the objective of India too — the world community has to be kept updated on the efforts being made by the state and central governments to facilitate that process. Visibility of improvement can be demonstrated in many ways. The decision of the Centre to allow a group of 23 members of European Parliament coming to Delhi to make a trip to J&K counts for this — the visiting dignitaries expressed full support for India’s fight against terror. Militants, meanwhile, made some stray attacks on non-Kashmiri labour working in the state — not surprising, considering that the latter are soft targets.

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India has finally succeeded in getting the world to acknowledge that Pakistan’s incessant attempts to use cross-border terrorism in Kashmir to keep the pot boiling there was what had forced the hands of the Modi regime to abrogate Art 370 and take charge of the security and development of J&K as a state of India. Time has come for India to specify the dangerous character of Pak-sponsored terror that relied for motivation not on ideology or an ethnic assertion but on commitment to ‘faith’ and to impress upon the entire democratic world that the revanchist call of Jehad, which had the potential of producing suicide bombers as an instrument of war, could make the world an unsafe place for a long time to come.

This is the threat of a new kind of terror arising out of the Muslim world and it is necessary to have it countered by way of a declaration of OIC that resort to Jehad was not a legitimate way of solving political disputes in today’s world. Unlike a country like the US, India, that houses the second largest Muslim population in the world, is particularly vulnerable to this danger since Pakistan has made Kashmir Jehad a declared war cry against India and is now determined to infiltrate Islamic militants through Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka routes. Internal security in India has to watch out against the influences of radicalisation and extend the outreach to concerned families to ward these off. Indian diplomacy must talk of the faith-based terror that the world was being exposed to and mobilise international opinion against it. A grave threat to our national security need not be couched in ambiguous terms for reasons of the need for diplomacy to be ‘politically correct’ always. India can use the dialogue of think-tanks to firm up the opinion of democratic countries against the enlarging threat of what is clearly an Islam-based terror. (IANS)