Militant groups in Kashmir now have Iridium satellite phones, Wi-Fi-enabled thermal imagery tools

The devices help terrorists escape during security cordons especially during night time

April 17, 2022 10:35 pm | Updated 10:35 pm IST - Srinagar

Army Jawans stand guard Anantnag district of south Kashmir. File photo for representation.

Army Jawans stand guard Anantnag district of south Kashmir. File photo for representation. | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Fifteen signatures of Iridium satellite phones, used by the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan, and Wi-Fi-enabled thermal imagery devices that help a terrorist to escape security cordons especially during night have been found in the militancy-hit Kashmir valley, officials here said on Sunday.

They said some of the signatures of Iridium satellite phones have been found in cyber space since February. It started from North Kashmir and now there have been some spots in parts of South Kashmir as well, they said.

These satellite phones could be part of the consignment dumped by the allied forces while leaving Afghanistan or may have been snatched by the Taliban or terrorists fighting there, the officials said.

They said there is no need to panic as the movement of these phones was being specially monitored and those using them would definitely be in custody soon or get neutralised, the officials said.

Bodies like the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and the Defence Intelligence Agencies (DIA) have been tasked with finding and giving out real-time information about the presence of these satellite phones in the Kashmir valley, they said.

In the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) first restricted the use of Iridium and Thuraya satellite phones and infrastructure, and in 2012 completely banned them the under the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act.

Government permission needed

Passengers importing satellite telephone as baggage are required to declare them to the Customs on arrival at immigration and customs checkpoints. Also, the satellite phone declared by Customs can be allowed clearance subject to production of permission for use from the government's Department of Telecommunications.

The officials said that signatures of thermal imaging devices which can be connected to Wi-Fi have also been found from some of the encounter sites.

This device, which is not part of the Pakistani Army and may possibly have found its way into Kashmir from Afghanistan, is used by terrorists to find their way out during cordon and search operations especially during night.

The device senses the image of approaching security personnel from the heat generated from his body besides giving an overview of the general area outside their hideouts, the officials said. As a precautionary measure, the security forces now carry jammers along with other tools to block all signals so that the terrorists do not find a way to escape from the area, the officials said.

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