NEW DELHI: The Line of Control could turn red-hot once again. Even as disclosures by Guantanamo Bay detainees show al-Qaida had plans to bomb an Indian airliner and that Pakistan army and ISI have for long been directly involved in training and directing anti-India terrorists, Indian security forces are bracing for a “hot” summer in Kashmir and elsewhere.
Latest intelligence inputs show over 100 terrorists are waiting at the “launch pads” along the LoC to infiltrate into J&K, with another 700-800 militants holed up in different terror-training camps in Pakistan.
This comes even as a fresh set of US cables released by Wikileaks has reinforced the direct links between ISI and anti-India terror outfits like Laskhar-eTaiba, which even hold that the Pakistan army plays a role in selecting the targets to be attacked.
The US records, based on the interrogation reports of 779 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, also clearly show that Washington was well aware that Pakistan’s security establishment was running terror-training camps directed against India.
Abdul Azia, an al-Qaida courier and LeT operative from Algeria arrested by the US in 2002, for instance, is quoted as saying that ISI “allowed” militants to sneak inside India to bomb, kidnap or kill Kashmiri people. His mission, he said, was to “kill Indians in India”.
Other detainees held that al-Qaida, apart from the plan to bomb an Indian airliner, was interested in India as “a platform to send operatives to the US or UK because of the large Muslim population there and the low-level of scrutiny given to travellers of Indian nationality”.
Indian security and intelligence agencies maintain that there are still 34 ‘active’ and eight ‘holding’ camps operational across the border. The ‘active’ camps in PoK range from those in Kotli, Garhi Dupatta, Nikial, Forward Kahutta and Peer Chinasi to the ones in Jhandi Chauntra, Bhimbher, Barnala, Skardu and Abdullah Bin Masud. The North-West Frontier Province also remains a prominent centre for training jihadis, especially in the densely-forested and hilly Manshera region.
The recent ceasefire violations by Pakistan – thrice in two weeks – are seen as attempts to infiltrate terrorists into J&K. “Firing from across the border generally takes place to provide cover to terrorists who want to infiltrate. Security forces have been asked to remain vigilant as such attempts may be repeated,” said an official.
The ceasefire violations along the LoC took place on May 5, April 24 and April 22. The Indo-Pak ceasefire, along the 198-km international border in J&K, the 778-km LoC and the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line in the Siachen-Saltoro Ridge region, came into force as a confidence-building measure in November 2003. While in the initial years it largely held, Pakistan army has gone back to its old gambit of giving “covering or diversionary fire” to help infiltrating militants.