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Punjab’s worry - militants not using mobiles
Published on 24 Aug. 2010 11:24 PM IST
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Militants who are trying to re-group in Punjab have a new tactic to avoid capture - not using mobile phones, which, say security agencies, has become a “major handicap” in tracking these terror elements.
A confidential communication from the office of Suresh Arora, Punjab’s additional director general of police (intelligence), to top security officials has revealed that the state police and other security agencies are feeling a major handicap in nabbing militants trying to revive terrorism in the state.
The communication, which is in possession of IANS, reads: “Further learnt that foreign-based activists are not using local cell (mobile) numbers. They are predominantly making use of PCOs (public call offices or STD phone booths) to contact their conduits.”
“Militants not using cell phones is emerging as a major handicap for security agencies, making it difficult to track the movement of foreign-based militants in Punjab,” it adds.
With hundreds of STD PCOs dotting villages, towns and cities across Punjab, given the state’s big NRI population, Punjab Police officials say it is difficult to keep a tab on all of them.
“We can always track some suspect mobile phone numbers and listen to conversations. But when the militants and their conduits use PCOs, it becomes difficult to track them when they call up numbers in other countries,” a senior Punjab Police official told IANS here.
With mobile phone numbers giving away information about their activities, militants are now using local phones to call up their links in other countries as they try to regroup. Sikh militancy raised its head in Punjab in 1981, but was stamped out almost completely by 1995.
Punjab’s Director General of Police P.S. Gill wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs this month, pointing out that recent activities of militants trying to revive terrorism in the state indicated that Malaysia was being used as a new base by Sikh militants and their sympathisers.
At least two to three militants arrested recently in Punjab have used Malaysia as a transit or stay point, police officials say.
The input came following the arrest of some militants in recent months. Their interrogation revealed that militants are using their support base in Nepal, Malaysia, Pakistan, Germany and a few other countries to try to revive terrorism in Punjab.
“Though there is no question of mass support for the revival of militancy in Punjab, foreign-based militants are luring youth from Punjab by offering to get them settled in other countries if they join militant ranks,” the police official added.
In the last three months alone, Punjab Police have recovered over 30 kg of RDX and other explosives.
The explosives and arms and ammunition are being smuggled into the state from neighbouring Pakistan through the barbed wire-fenced border with that country in Punjab and Rajasthan.
Much of the support for militant elements in Punjab is coming from foreign-based militants in other countries.
Punjab Police are particularly monitoring the activities of militants based abroad owing their allegiance to terror outfits like Babbar Khalsa International, Khalistan Zindabad Force and Khalistan Commando Force.
The Punjab Police communication says: “Trends clearly indicate that the Sikh militants are depending upon foreign-based contacts. After coming to Punjab, they coordinate with their local conduits for accommodation, conveyance, etc., to carry out nefarious designs.”

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