High terror threat to J&K election

Date: 27 Jun 2008


High terror threat to J&K election, Antony visit today

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

The Government has taken serious view of the Pakistan-backed terrorists trying to step up violence in Jammu and Kashmir in the run-up to the Assembly elections in October. Intelligence agencies believe that about 70 bids to sneak into Kashmir were made till April this year and 15 of them were successful. The figures for last year were 540 infiltration bids, of which 300-odd were successful, sources said on Monday. 
 With the situation turning grim, Defence Minister AK Antony would lead a high-level team of Defence and Home Ministry officials to take stock of the situation during a two-day visit to the State. The visit starts on Tuesday. Antony would be briefed about the ground situation by security forces in Srinagar and the Defence Minister is likely to give a detailed report to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which would be chaired by the Prime Minister later this week. 
Reports of militants consolidating their positions in the rugged mountain terrain and replenishing their supply of weapons and ammunition, coupled with four incidents of firing on Indian positions from the across the Line of Control (LOC) last month, would prominently figure during Antony's visit to the State. 
Army chief Deepak Kapoor, who would accompany the Defence Minister, has denied any "alarming build-up" by militants in the Doda and Kishtwar regions. Officials, however, admit that the Pakistan army and the ISI will turn the heat on within the next few weeks by pushing in so-called jehadis into the border State to engineer terrorist incidents. 
In fact, Antony also expressed the apprehension that the coming months could see renewed bids to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir, and called for extra vigil by security forces to ensure peaceful Assembly elections. He also expressed concerns that militants would try to sneak into the State now since the snow has melted from the mountain passes, thereby making it easier for terrorists to exploit ingress routes.
The team accompanying the Defence Minister to Srinagar indicates the seriousness being attached to this visit, officials said here on Monday. Besides the Army chief, Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, Special Secretary in Home Ministry ML Kumawat and Joint Secretary (Kashmir affairs) K Skandan are part of the delegation. They will hold detailed discussions with the State Government, including the police and civil administration. The Northern Command of the Army, which is responsible for counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir, would brief Antony. 
The Defence Minister, who was instrumental in the Government's decision to hike the rental for properties and agricultural land and a new policy for occupying properties by the security forces, would also review the progress on this front, officials said. 
Meanwhile, the assessment so far indicates that the Assembly elections would see largescale participation by contestants and voters but the hard-line elements on both sides of the border do not want a smooth democratic process. Given this scenario, they would try to engineer violent incidents to give a signal to the electorate that they still called the shots, sources said, adding that the need of the hour was to keep a close watch on the Pakistan army. 
It had not made its position on the Kashmir clear as Pakistan went through a political turmoil and Pervez Musharraf shed his uniform. The new chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, was maintaining a low profile, sources said and warned that the Indian security establishment could not ignore the fact that Kayani was the ISI chief for two years before assuming the new responsibility.