February 27, 2024

J&K Police and Security Forces Facing A New Challenge

For quite some time in the past, ISI has been providing smuggled narcotics to Kashmiri militants.
Keywords: J&K, Security, narcotics, Conflict, Pakistan, Kashmir, Drugs, Trade, Drone, Terrorists, Proxy War, Militancy, Conspiracy, Communal
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For quite some time in the past, ISI has been providing smuggled narcotics to Kashmiri militants.

On July 30, DGP Dilbagh Singh took the salute at the Passing out Parade at the Police Training Centre at Manigam in Gandarbal district of Kashmir.  I do not know whether the national mainstream media gave his address to the cadets the importance it deserved given the seriousness of its content.

This veteran soldier and commander, who seldom discloses the tactics of militants of carrying forward their nefarious designs in J&K also restrict himself only to the duties assigned to him and his forces. It means he keeps clear of the political nuances of ongoing militancy in the Union Territory, thus proving to be a professional to the hilt. But if he hints at a new challenge and mentions the source from where the challenge springs, then his words merit serious attention. Let us quote him. He said, ”Narco-militancy is the biggest challenge faced by the J&K Police. The security forces are making all-out efforts to counter the menace. Pakistan is hatching conspiracies to disrupt peace in J&K.”

Narco-militancy may sound like a small and simple phrase but it is fraught with many dangerous and destructive dimensions. A good number of private as well as state-sponsored actors and agents have to come together to give the act its desired lethality. The act is above the communal divide.

DGP J&K said that Pakistan is hatching conspiracies to disrupt peace in J&K. We all know that Afghanistan is the world’s largest drug-producing, refining and exporting country. Despite some efforts made by various Kabul regimes or by the America-led NATO military dispensation to impose a ban or curtail the quantum of narcotics production, nothing worked. Ultimately, narco-business came to be recognized not only as the de jure business in Afghanistan but also as the main fundraising source of scores of active groups under their respective tribal commanders in that country.

Given the policy of Afghan warlords to fill the world market with almost all variants of narcotics, they have established an international network for drug smuggling and distribution through the network operatives in West European, African and South Asian countries. Nearer home, the drug smugglers are active in Iran and Pakistan. In many instances, Iranian border guards have acted against the smugglers and gunned them down.

Afghan drug pedlars have also established links with Western Europe through the Central Asian route and Tajikistan is fighting against the menace with its back against the wall.

But the case of Pakistan is different. Pakistan’s government never effectively tried to uproot the narcotic gangsters on home soil. It has been rather encouraging the illegal drug business and giving the Afghan drug mafias the freedom of transacting with their counterparts on Pakistani soil. It is said that in Pakistan influential persons like ministers and parliamentarians besides many police high-ups are soft-paddling with the narcotic dons and in some cases do not hesitate to ask for their pound of flesh.

For quite some time in the past, ISI has been providing smuggled narcotics to Kashmiri militants. Drugs were recovered from the possession of many Pakistani infiltrators who were arrested by the Indian security forces either in armed clashes or through surrender. But we all know that not all the quantum of narcotics carried across the LoC or even through the International Border has been seized. A huge quantity of these drugs kept hidden from the eyes of the security forces are clandestinely brought to their destinations in the country. It has to be said that these destinations are spread over almost the entire country and those closely working in these networks are not bound by any relationship except that of earning hefty amounts from the secret sale of drugs. The young students of both sex in colleges and universities are their cherished targets. 

It is Pakistan’s policy to spoil the youth in our country in general and Kashmir Valley, in particular, to get addicted to drugs, break their educational career, make the youth desperately hostile to their parents and the administration and finally join the gangs of addicts. They adopt an anti-social and anti-national attitudes and become a huge burden on society which must run anti-drug addiction camps to retrieve the vast youth community.

Drug smuggling has a very serious impact on society and the economy of the country. In terms of society, it gives rise to a new rich class that has acquired huge wealth through the illegal drug business. It leads to class distinction in society and imbalances the economy almost imperceptibly. 

Owing to strict vigilance and action on the ground by the security forces, the funding sources of the militancy in Kashmir have dried up to a large extent. The hawala was the easy route of transferring clandestine money to the militants or their conduits and that kept the Kashmir militancy sustained for three decades. But now the authorities have adopted a series of measures to curtail hawala money. Many suspected destinations have been raided and many secret documents recovered that have exposed the hawala rackets and its important conduits not only in Kashmir but in the country and outside the country as well. The funding sources of Kashmir militants are no more an unknown secret to the security forces. Most of these sources have been choked, notorious hawala operatives arrested and put behind the bars. The huge funding for the so-called Kashmir jihad that flowed like a torrent into Kashmir in the first two decades of militancy, and which entirely changed the lifestyle of the Kashmiris was abruptly halted. Even there was violence and killings among the militant leadership on sharing the funds and refusal to account for the expenditures and distributions. 

This is one of the reasons why Pakistan began using drones for dropping not only arms, ammunition and explosives but the Indian currency notes also in huge quantities. Again a network of over-ground helpers irrespective of religious or regional affiliations was formed with conduits in Jammu especially in the border tehsils of Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch and Surankot where the involved persons and groups knew through mobile messages where the drone droppings had been made so that they would collect these and then clandestinely hand over to the active militants. Some information of this kind has already been obtained by the J&K Police and intelligence sleuths. Only recently, the security forces shot down a Pakistani drone somewhere on the Samba border. Bombs, arms, IEDs and a cache of Indian currency notes to the tune of 18 lakh rupees were recovered from the debris of the drone. The package also contained small packs of heroin or cocaine.

It has to be noted that the drone tactics have suddenly increased by the ISI in the entire border area of Jammu soon after the end of the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia last year. In that war, Azerbaijan forces used the Turkish drone called Bayakatar on a very large and most effective scale and brought about the defeat of Armenian forces that had been putting up tough resistance. But the Russian-made arms that the Armenian troops were using became useless against the drone attacks by the Azerbaijani forces. Turkey sold this success story most efficiently and the world powers began to know and acquire the Bayaktor drones from Turkey.

Of late Turkey has become friendly with Pakistan and has been openly upholding Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir. Erdogan spoke of so-called Indian atrocities against the Muslims in Kashmir and the rest of India. It will be remembered that Turkey was one of the four rouge Muslim States that had come together in Kuala Lumpur to demand the ouster of Saudi Arabia as the Custodian of the two most important cities of the Muslim world namely harmain-e-sharif of Mecca and Medina. Pakistan approached Turkey for Bayaktur II drones considered the best in the world. How many Bayakturs have been given to Pakistan we do not know but the fact is that Pakistan is using these in Jammu and Kashmir region very frequently. Perhaps the Indian security and defence forces do not have as yet the technology of destroying these drones with a laser missile before they cross the border. It is said that these drones are soundless and cannot be monitored by the radar as they fly at low heights.

The Home Minister recently disclosed in the Parliament that Pakistan was not sending in narcotics only through infiltrators and militants or now through drones but also through the sea. He said that 81 percent of narcotics smuggled into the country from Pakistan was through the sea. He also disclosed that during Prime Minister Modi’s stewardship for viz. past eight years nearly 3.5 lakh kilograms of narcotics of all kinds were seized by the security forces which the smugglers from Pakistan were trying to pass on to their Indian handlers. 

Only two or three days after the statement of the J&K Police Chief Dilbagh Singh in Srinagar, the news came that a Pakistani ship carrying packs of narcotics to the tune of 800 kilograms hidden in its pipes was detected somewhere near the coast of Gujerat in the darkness of the night. The coast guards and the Indian navy came into action and planned so effectively and even fired shots that compelled the incoming vessel to surrender when it found all ways of returning to Pakistan or running away were blocked by the Indian navy. The vessel with 19 Pakistani crew members was detained and brought to the shore for further action by the authorities. The crew is reported to have conceded that it carried the illegal merchandise and was going to drop it at a particular place in the sea from where the waterproof packets would be recovered by the Indian conduits. This incident shows the huge scale on which drug trafficking is undertaken by the ISI with the larger objective of spoiling the Indian youth and the Indian economy.

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K N Pandita

K N Pandita has a PhD in Iranian Studies from the University of Teheran. He is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University.

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