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Demonetization hits terror hard in Kashmir: Starved of cash, militants resort to looting banks

Author: Ishfaq-ul-Hassan
Publication: DNA India
Date: December 16, 2016
URL:   http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-demonetization-hits-terror-hard-in-kashmir-starved-of-cash-militants-resort-to-looting-banks-2283380

Demonetization has hit the militants hard in the strife torn Jammu and Kashmir. Starved of funds post demonetization, militants have resorted to looting banks to replenish their coffers in the restive Kashmir Valley.

Post-demonetization, robbers have looted four branches of Jammu and Kashmir Bank and decamped with around Rs 69.45 lakh of which Rs 25.16 lakh comprised of old denomination notes of Rs 500 and RS 1000. One of the attempts to loot the bank was foiled in Budgam district of central Kashmir.

Most of the banks were looted by militants in militancy-infested south Kashmir belt. Latest being the J&K bank Ratnipora branch in Pulwama district where militants looted around Rs 10 lakh on Thursday.

“Obviously they must be feeling the heat of demonetization. Demonetization has apparently squeezed them financially,” Dr SP Vaid, special director general of police, Jammu and Kashmir, told DNA.

Terror financing has been a problem area for the security forces given the underhand dealings using different hawala and cross border channels. Most terror money used to be in old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes because it was easy to carry and distribute.

After demonetization, the militants and their over ground workers have suddenly faced cash crunch that has hit their activities hard in Jammu and Kashmir.

“They (ultras) are facing the heat. Since demonetization it is the third incident of bank robbery and each time they have decamped with around Rs 10 lakh. It is same four-member Lashkar-e-Tioba group comprising two Pakistani ultras and two locals who carry out bank robberies”, Rayees Mohommad Bhat, senior superintendent of police, Pulwama, told DNA.

Police said the militants are facing cash crunch because they require huge money for paying to their cadres and buying logistics. “They pay their cadres as per their need. There is no fixed amount that they pay to their cadres. Plus they need money to buy phones, SIM cards and for transportation. They also need money to pay their over ground workers (for arranging logistics). But post demonetization they are facing the shortage of finances”, he said.

Figures reveal last year security forces seized Rs 6,75,684 in Indian currency from the militants during different counter terror operations. The cash seizure is the tip of the iceberg because most of the money is handled by over ground workers and the currency seized was from the ultras.

“Everything is done in cash. The demonetizing has hit them hard. The money they might be having has gone waste because they were dealing mostly in old high denomination notes”, said an intelligence officer.
The cases:

Nov 21: Suspected militants barged into the Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch in Central Kashmir’s Malpora village and looted the Rs 12.45 lakh on the gunpoint. However, Rs 11 lakh of the total looted money comprised of the old currency notes.

Nov 23: Unidentified robbers opened the locks of Jammu and Kashmir bank branch at Sarthal in Kishtwar district in the dead of night and walked away with Rs 34 lakh cash. Of the total looted amount, Rs 12 lakh was in old de-registered currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000.

Dec 8: Unidentified gunmen looted a Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch at Arihal in Pulwama district and decamped with more than Rs 13 lakh cash including Rs 11 lakh new currency.

Dec 8: Militants bid to loot the J&K bank at Poshkar village in Budgam district was foiled.

Dec 15: Militants barged into the Ratnipora Branch of Jammu Kashmir and Rs 9. 86 lakh cash. It included Rs 16,000 in old denomination notes


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