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Fear psychosis or real threat?

Fear psychosis or real threat?

Author: Surinder Awasthi
Publication: The Times of India
Date: July 2, 2005
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1158128.cms

Even as Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and police chief S S Virk have ruled out revival of militancy in Punjab, the number of terrorists arrested and the recoveries made in June indicate that militancy could be back if it gets support from people.

In all, Punjab police arrested 32 militants from 10 districts in June, suggesting that their network was spread throughout the state.

These arrests are a apart of those made by Delhi police, including that of Jagtar Singh Hawara's. Another had committed suicide in Hoshiarpur.

Interestingly, all of them owed allegiance to most dreaded militant outfit -- Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) -- and no old case had been pending against them in any police station, suggesting these were recruited and motivated in the recent past.

The recovery of ammunition from their possession raise the doubts of militancy.

Despite assurances, fear psychosis prevails, especially among people who have suffered in the past.

Ironically, public prosecutors have invariably sought remand of the arrested militants on the ground that there were apprehensions of revival of militancy, and the police needed them for recoveries and more leads.

The rattlings by Khalistani ideologues like Jagjit Singh Chohan and Simranjit Singh Mann have reinforced the fear psychosis.

The police recovered 42.610 kilos of RDX and two RDX sticks, two AK-47 rifles, one carbine, nine pistols, three revolvers, 14 hand grenades (HE36 E), 11 bombs, 87 detonators, 2,369 cartridges and over Rs 6 lakh cash recently.

These recoveries can well be compared to those made during any given month when militancy was at its peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Compared to the first five months of this year, the recoveries are large.

Only one detonator and five kg of RDX were recovered from Labh Singh, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping of an industrialist's son Prabir.

He is learnt to have had some links with terrorists in the past.

Four other terrorists too were arrested in March this year. They were at large for the last 12 to 16 years.

Even last year, 25 militants owing allegiance to Khalistan Liberation Force, Khalistan Liberation Army, Khalistan Commando Force (Panjwar) were arrested with weapons and explosives. None, however, was from the BKI.

However, the ramifications of the arrests and recoveries in June this year are different, say police officials.

They add that most militant arrests till June were of those who had committed a minor crime or were associated with militants during the days of militancy. They had been aviiding the police net by either staying out of Punjab or the country. After the return of normalcy, they wanted to return to their families to lead normal lives but were caught.

However, those arrested in June fall in different categories -- they are learnt to have been either planning action or waiting for directions.

And their strategy was clear: to use explosives and sparingly weapons for their own protection. This is evident form 426 kg of RDX and 88 detonators.

Yet, people in the state refuse to shed apprehension of return of militancy.

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