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A salary to die for

A salary to die for

Author: M K Tayal
Publication: Mid-Day
Date: November 2, 2003
URL: http://web.mid-day.com/news/nation/2003/november/67781.htm

What motivates a young man to take up terrorism, enrol himself at a training camp in Pakistan, infiltrate India, fire at the Army and possibly never return home?

It is a small pay package that equals the wage of a peon or driver. The lure of a mere Rs 3,000 per month ensures that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) meets its manpower requirements.

However, not every terrorist gets Rs 3,000. Payments relate directly to performance, area of operation, number of casualties the terrorist has inflicted upon Indian security forces, motivation level and other HR criterion.

In short, the ISI maintains dossiers and gives annual marks to its cadres very much like the Pakistan Army does for its regular employees.

The pay scale is not rigid as it varies depending on the risks one is willing to take and his commitment to the cause. Some of the more 'enthusiastic' Kashmiri youth get around Rs 5,000. With the number of years one puts in, the annual increment increases.

A Kashmiri company or battalion gets from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000. A district commander gets around Rs 20,000.

Nevertheless, one thing is clear that Kashmiri youth get a raw deal compared to the Pakistani or foreign counterpart. The Kashmiri mujahideen is paid less by the ISI than a Pakistani terrorist.

The rank and file from Pakistan or Afghanistan or any other country gets a starting salary of Rs 5,000 that can go up to Rs 7,000.

Commanders get much more. A commander starts at anything above Rs 25,000. The higher they go, the heftier the pay package and the more discreet it becomes.

Lashkar-e-Taiba's (LeT) Doda district commander Mohd Shahzad, a Pakistani national, captured by the Army after a fierce encounter in September 2003, said he came to Jammu & Kashmir to be a jehadi and was paid nearly Rs 20,000 per month but that limit was waived off as a special case.

"Money didn't matter. I could get as much as I wanted," Shahzad had said. However, he remained silent when asked what was the amount his parents were getting in Pakistan.

But it is sure that the money Shahzad got was for operations in his area and his logistical support. His monthly emoluments were being directly sent to his home in Pakistan.

The main attraction in joining the ISI is the initial offer. A Kashmiri gets Rs two lakh as one-time payment to join. There is a catch. One must go over to Pakistan to get the complete four to five month training and then work his way back into India from the 120 launch pads.

The basic training at the 85 training camps is the same and involves handling small arms (AK-47) and explosives, small unit tactics of raid and ambush and radio communication. The second term involves training of special operations-explosives.

The fidayeens (soldiers on a suicide mission) get highly sophisticated training but their emoluments remain a mystery, since naturally none survive to tell their tale.

"Poor economic conditions in the Valley force some to cross over to Pakistan for their training. The amount is too tempting for anyone to say 'no'," explains an official.

There are other factors too at work. Competition and style for instance drive most youth into the realm of the AK-47. "It has become a style. If you don't have a gun you don't get good girlfriends and nobody respects you," a militant said to an army officer serving in the Valley.

Sources also point to the presence of foreign militants who come to the Valley after sessions of intense motivation and psychological drills. LeT's Shahzad said he came to Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) to fight jehadis as he was told harrowing stories of atrocities being committed on the Muslims in the Valley.

I felt I had to take revenge but now after fighting the army for more than three years I realise the futility of this 'freedom' movement," he said in a heart-to-heart talk.

However, the ISI makes sure that those who help recruit while on the job are not neglected. It rewards handsomely. "If a militant motivates and enrols another youth, he can make upto Rs 1.5 lakh," explained a source.

However, initially the ISI made sure the money was delivered to the militant's parents but as the numbers started dwindling, so did it the commitment.

Though no one complains publicly, there have been reports of parents of the deceased militant not getting a single penny. Realising this, Kashmiri youths are now averse to taking up the gun while recruitment from Pakistan remains high.

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