Dubious informers playing both sides in Kashmir

The precise nature of the information the four terrorists who stormed the Uri army base had, yet again point fingers at the role of dubious sources who flourish in the Kashmir insurgency.

Many in the security establishment have for long seen a pattern: doubtful sources who are mixed up with both the security forces and militants and playing both sides.

One such source, with access to the Uri Brigade headquarters could have been the one to feed the terrorists details which resulted in the killing of 18 soldiers. “They had far too much of specific information, it is not just a coincidence,” one Army officer said.

He pointed out that the terrorists seemed to know about the arrival of a 35-member advance party of the 6 Bihar Regiment that was to replace 10 Dogra Regiment. The advance party had arrived only a couple of days earlier, to prepare for the arrival of a 1000-strong unit.

“During the turnover of units the guard automatically lowers. This is not the first time we have seen an attack during such a period,” he said. He said the attackers also seemed to have known that the advance party was mostly sleeping in tents, at which they fired incendiary ammunition. When the tents caught fire, many soldiers ran out but were shot down — at least 14 died in such a fashion.

The source industry

Kashmir has a flourishing source industry and it is increasingly causing serious problems, admit many in the security establishment.

“We need sources to get information, and thus they are given some amount of access and freedom. However, they also play the other side. Obviously, they benefit from both sides,” one officer said.

In many of the major terrorist operations targeted at security personnel and establishments, such dubious sources have played some role in recent years, many admitted.

The role of dubious sources in November 2015 was suspected when Colonel Santosh Mahadik, commanding officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, was grievously injured in an encounter in Kupwara, and died later. When Colonel M.N. Rai was killed in January 2015 in Tral, similar fears were raised.

“We have no proper auditing system for sources. They make some money out of us, and we are probably lazy and the environment too hostile for us to impose strict discipline on the entire business,” a senior official said.

Security forces see a pattern: informers mixed up with both the security forces and militants

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