Senior Indian Army sources asserted that the Pakistani youth's plea for surrender, as soon as his mate was killed, was a definite indication that he was not so convinced about the 'jihad' narrative but had taken on the cross-border 'task' out of financial compulsion
In a massive anti-infiltration operation by the Indian Army in late September 2021, in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri, about 10 km from the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, a 19-year-old Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba terrorist from Pakistani Punjab was captured and made major revelations on camera, which included details of his terror training by the Pakistan Army and him being part of a group of six terrorists tasked for a big strike inside Indian territory.
Ali Babar Patra, the captured terrorist, claimed that he had to "drop arms in Baramulla", but the size of the consignment raised suspicion. They took the same route as the terrorists who attacked the Uri Indian Army base in 2016, killing 19 soldiers. Days later, India launched what it operationally called "surgical strikes" on nine Pakistani "terror launch pads" across the Line of Control over a stretch of 250 km.
"The route was from the Sawai Nala Terrorist Camp to Hallan Shumali Launch pad to Jabri, leading into Salamabad Nala. It was along Salamabad Nala through which terrorists infiltrated in 2016 with the help of Pakistan Army and carried out a suicide attack on Uri Garrison," the Indian Army spokesman said.
Patra reportedly told his military interlocutors he was misguided and lured into joining LeT due to poverty after losing his father early. Living barely above the poverty line with his widowed mother and an adopted sister, he had to drop out of school.
He revealed that (a) they went through three weeks of "preliminary training" at the Garhi Habibullah Camp, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province in 2019 and received "refresher training" in 2021, (b) most of the instructors involved in the physical and weapons training of the terrorists were Pakistan Army personnel, (c) they underwent an organised program of indoctrination on the theme of false and fake narratives of 'Islam being in danger' and perceived killing including the "atrocities" being committed against Muslims in Kashmir, (d) he was given ₹ 20,000 for his mother's treatment and was promised ₹ 30,000 more on his return from Pattan near Baramulla, where the group was to deliver a substantial cache of arms, ammunition etc in Pattan area.
Senior Indian Army sources asserted that the Pakistani youth's plea for surrender, as soon as his mate was killed, was a definite indication that he was not so convinced about the 'jihad' narrative but had taken on the cross-border 'task' out of financial compulsion. In a detailed confession by Patra released by the Indian Army on 30 September, he categorically stated that on surrendering, he was given tea and food and treated very humanely, quite opposite to the propaganda by the Pakistan Army, and their false accusations about India.
Exploitation of poor youth
He pointed said that he saw the hustle and bustle in the streets of Kashmir and heard sounds of 'azaan' (call to prayers) from a mosque while being driven through by the Indian Army personnel and it was quite clear that all the Pakistani indoctrination was false.
Maj Gen Virendra Vats, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 19 Infantry Division of the Indian Army, was quoted in the media as stating that seeing the recoveries that were made, it is quite possible that these infiltrators had come here for some kind of major strike and that the infiltration attempt was made in the area of Salamabad nallah (channel), the same area through which Pakistani terrorists had infiltrated in 2016, when they launched a suicide attack on the Uri garrison.
While Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) has been on overdrive since the abrogation of Article 370 (August 2019) of the Constitution in Jammu and Kashmir, the ceasefire agreed upon in February 2021 did not make an iota of difference in “preparing” and inducting terrorists into J&K and even Punjab of late. In the period January to July 2021, 61 terrorists, including a number of militant ‘commanders’ were killed in J&K. The tally including the latest incident may well be about 20 or more. And all this is happening with much “encouragement and motivation” of Pakistan’s "iron brother" China whose presence is growing in Pakistan in every respect.
While much has been exposed about how Pakistan Army/ISI exploit poor and hapless Pakistani youth to lure them into 'jihad’ against India, and there have been statements made by US senators about Pakistan’s complicity with terrorism and the Afghan Taliban, which ironically is Pakistan’s creation, it is doubtful if all this mounting evidence will lead to any action against Pakistan by the US or the international community.
(The writer is a former Indian Army spokesman. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)