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Foreign militants woo locals with money in Poonch - The Indian Express

Arun Sharma ()
November 24, 1998

Title: Foreign militants woo locals with money in Poonch
Author: Arun Sharma
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: November 24, 1998

Foreign mercenaries, who would earlier use the gun to get the
locals in the border districts of Poonch an Rajouri to accede to
their demands, have shifted strategy in the face of an unyielding
populace. They are now trying to lure the locals with money, says
General Officer Commanding, 25 Division, Major General V S Yadav.

Yadav said the mercenaries brought with them plenty of cash from
across the border. The army has recovered at least Rs 19 lakh
from various militants killed in encounters the districts during
the last four months, he added.

Earlier, the militants would force people provide them food and
shelter, besides acting as their guides, gun point. This led to
large scale resentment among the locals who had, of late, begun
to approach the army with intonation against the militants.
Senior army officials said the change m militants' strategy has
been seen in the last three to four months.

The Army recently recovered Rs five lakh m cash after an
encounter with a group of militants in Poonch district. It
recovered Rs 2.5 lakh in cash from another group.

Last month, the Army recovered Rs 2.5 lakh worth of travellers'
cheques from the militants. While the troops and security forces
said the militants were bringing in fake Indian currency, Maj Gen
Yadav disclosed that most of the currency recovered in both the
districts was found to he genuine.

However, senior army officials said foreign mercenaries had not
entirely succeeded in wooing the locals over.

While the militants did offer the people money, they were also
kidnapping and raping their women-folk. However, many of the
victims did not lodge complaints with the police due to
militants' fear, the officials added. In addition, local and
foreign militants were often engaged in tussles over money and
kidnappings, the officials said.

Often, local militants themselves passed on information on their
foreign counterparts' whereabouts to the army, leading to at
least 150 militants being killed in encounters near the line of
Control in Rajouri and Poonch this year.

The foreign mercenaries, Yadav said, moved about in groups of
five to six, and had started coming down from the higher reaches
of Pir Panjal with the onset of winter.

This, he added, had led to an increase in the number of
encounters with the Army. The casualties on the militants' side
will increase when the Pir Panjal passes are closed due to
snowfall in a couple of days, officials added.

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