Kupwara again emerges as gateway for infiltration, pumping in ammunition or narcotics
When terrorism began in Kashmir in 1990, many people were in the race to create their own militant groups and establish a lucrative business through this medium. Pakistan was sending money for militants and their families. For this entire trade – whether it was infiltration of militants, enabling youth/militants to go to Pakistan or to receive ammunition or hawala money routed through Pakistan, Kupwara became the gateway. The routes through Kupwara district were the first choice for these activities. This is because the district has a long border with Pakistan. In this way, criminals and anti-national forces based in Kupwara district played a big role in destroying one generation in Kashmir.
Youth In Kupwara District Being Used For Narcotics Movement
Now after 30 years of terrorism in Kashmir, Kupwara may again become the epicenter to destroy another generation of Kashmiris. Vicious forces are at play on the border between India and Pakistan along Kupwara. Once again, infiltration routes in the district connecting with Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir are being used by ISI and the Pakistan Army to send narcotics and ammunition into Kashmir.
Drugs have replaced the medium of sending hawala money into Kashmir. Since hawala channels have been busted, narcotics are the new currency. The youth of Kupwara district are being used as conduits to ferry carry drugs from one place to another. They are paid commission on each consignment ferried by them. The militants supply the narcotics to their local handlers to generate funds for their activities. In whis way, narcotics are the new weapon in Kashmir.
Toxic Role Played by Many Kashmiris in POK, Their Families Here
A big concern in this trade is the role played by many Kashmiris who have relatives in Pakistan. Many of these Kashmiris in Pakistan are those who had gone from here to get arms training, stayed back for long periods and got engaged in the narcotics trade. These Kashmiris are among the best sources for ISI to get information regarding what is happening in Kashmir. Through their family members here, the Kashmiris in Pakistan get information regarding who are the nationalists in Kashmir and what are their current activities. With advanced mobile phone technologies available, these families use different applications to remain in contact with their relatives across the border in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir or other areas of Pakistan. Whenever the drug cartels there send a consignment of drugs across the border, the Kashmiris in Pakistan inform their family members in advance to take the kheph (consignment) from the border. Sometime this conversation leaks, and security forces are able to seize the consignments in order to save the youth of Kashmir. Kupwara district has taken the lead in this illicit trade and is used as an active gateway for the supply of drugs and ammunition.
Huge Profits For Militant Commanders
Militant commanders staying in Pakistan are making huge profit from this drug business. The narcotics operation has the full blessings of ISI, since it meets the needs of the militants in Kashmir. This also helps ISI to involve more and more youth in Kashmir in militant activities. Many youth of Kashmir are getting trapped in the narcotics trade to make easy money. A prime objective of ISI is to keep increasing local support in Kashmir to constantly strengthen the terror ecosystem. ISI wants to create handlers in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir for the narcotics project, and a network of youth in the valley who shall directly support the narcotics trade and movement.
ISI is keen that Lashkar e Taiba and the Taliban should operate jointly in Kashmir and keep it on constant boil. One, LeT operates with new-age technologies to engage in terror activities. Second, LeT has created a network of female Over Ground Workers (OGWs) who support narcotics from one place to another, but do not arouse much suspicion. LeT creates a large network of OGWs who can undertake risky tasks for them in return for monetary gains.
Bid to Engage Kashmiris Who Lost Their Families Members To Conflict
In this project, ISI also wants to engage those families in Kashmir who lost their loved ones in the conflict. ISI is making efforts to incorporate the youth from these families in the name of jihad. ISI proxies are feeding vulnerable Kashmiri youth the potion that with the help of Taliban, they shall be able to secure some so-called freedom for which they lost their loved ones. ISI knows that the youth from such families can be very important for their project. Their sentiment can be recharged in the name of Islam and jihad. Many of these families are already helping ISI by giving them regular information regarding the Valley.
ISI Extensively Questions Kashmiris Who Go to Pakistan To Meet Relatives
Many people go to Pakistan on the Indian passport to meet their sons who are settled there. Their sons had initially gone to Pakistan for arms training. They became part of the terror network. Through ISI, their marriage was solemnized with local Pakistani girls so that they would remain rooted with their families.
Most Kashmiris who go from here to meet their sons in POK are extensively questioned by the ISI about the situation in the valley. Through diverse interactions, I have learnt that many of these persons give detailed information to ISI about the location and other details of security establishments in their area. They also provide detailed information about all the persons they know who help the local administration or the security forces. Through this medium, ISI gets detailed information about the people who are helping the state to keep peace. The decision of the state to issue passports frequently to people whose relatives went to Pakistan for arms training and settled there has proved to be a wrong decision. The sensitive information regarding Kashmir shared by such persons is a threat to peace in the region.
Narcotics – The Currency For Terror Networks
For many years, it has been known that the Taliban were able to sustain the war against the US using funds from the narcotics trade. US Commander General John Nicholson stated in the 2018 Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (Sigar) report that the drug trade accounts for up to 60% of the Taliban’s annual revenue. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated the drug trade of Afghanistan to be more than 80 percent of global opium and heroin supplies. The same tactics is being used in Kashmir for many years in order to fund and sustain terrorism. Now, with the hawala channels blocked by the security and intelligence agencies of the state, the terror groups do not have access to easy funding. With this, narcotics have emerged as the major source of funding terrorism in Kashmir. Drones are being used to push drugs into Punjab and Kashmir.
Kashmir is being increasingly made a hub of narco terror. After the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, it is anticipated that more drugs will be pushed into Kashmir by the narcotics terror networks.