Monday, June 05, 2017

Persistent HM UGW presence in Southern Kashmir?

Details of the Ummer Fayaz assassination are coming into the public realm. It appears Lt. Fayaz kept his detailed movements a secret and yet somehow he was targeted. This make me wonder if a UGW (Under Ground Worker) presence in Southern Kashmir is still persistent.

Per the agreements of the last decade, HM UGWs were supposed to come overground and join the peace process. In exchange they were to turn over all munitions to the security forces. There was a sizable recovery of munitions in this process, and a lot of the GenX HM UGWs traded in their guns for the promise of a government pardon.

I was never sure how many came overground and how many still remained hidden. I was also unsure how many of those that came overground had handed over the weapons caches. Like the J&K Police DGP, I too was seduced by the possibility that this is over, even though a voice in my head kept saying - "It's not over until all the weapons have been recovered". I once privately opined to a friend, that if I was a security forces commander in Kashmir I would ask the former HM UGWs to hand over all the caches they were aware of or pick out places where they would like to be buried.

The fact that the terrorists were able to breach the security surrounding Lt. Fayaz's movements and that they were able to abduct him in broad daylight bypassing security forces check points in the area suggests to me that someone with detailed local knowledge was tracking him. Even if the PA-SSG were to launch a long range patrol of this kind, it would very difficult for them to achieve that much precision in the strike without direct support from local elements.

The kind of accurate local targeting was what made the HM particularly deadly during the early 90s. The HM organization was able to draw on informers in every police station, mosque, school and shop. When an RR column moved out from its garrison, the local tea-wallahs lining the streets outside the RR camp would send runners to HM UGWs in the area. This would cause all Lashkar Taiba/Jaish-e-Mohammed/PA-SSG operators in the surrounding areas to up their security. This trip-wire alone added a decade on to the process of securing J&K. With advanced warning transport infrastructure along the main supply route could be targeted with IEDs, RR convoys could be challenged with high efficiency. CASO operations could be defeated even before they were initiated.

Detecting the UGWs was a major pain, they would operate human runners as relays and unless you picked up one of those by chance or one of these guys had a change of heart when his check was late from the Pakistanis, the likelihood that you would uncover a network of these guys was very slim.

This was some bad shit. There is very good reason why the real national security types in New Delhi have a deep sense of dread about the situation in Kashmir. I don't expect the Modi-Bhakt dick-wagger types to get this level of detail, but if that HM UGW presence is persistent, we are going to see this conflict reignite.


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