India: Rebels massing in Kashmir

As many as 4500 Muslim fighters are waiting to cross into Indian administered Kashmir from the Pakistani controlled area of the divided mountain state, says India's junior Defence Minister Chaman Lal Gupta.

    Fighting has claimed some 70,000 lives in the past 14 years

    Indian troops are appraised of the situation and are prepared to defend their territory, Gupta told the Press Trust of India, according to AFP.

     

    “The infiltration from across the border has actually increased this month and 4500 militants are waiting for an opportune time to cross over,” Gupta said.

     

    Gupta attacked the Pakistani government, saying he was unsure how committed they were to reigning in militia fighters.

     

    He called on India’s nuclear neighbour to dismantle the infrastructure it had created to supply the rebels.

     

    Training camps

     

    India accuses Pakistan of bankrolling training camps and arming fighters. Pakistan has said it provides nothing more than moral support to the groups, some of which are fighting for an independent Kashmir and others for unity with Pakistan.

     

    On Saturday, Indian troops claimed to have shot dead four Muslim rebels during a fierce firefight.

     

    Gupta’s allegation came two days after Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, urged Pakistan to stop supporting cross-border attacks.

     

    "I ask my friends in Pakistan: 'We have fought for 50 years and how much more blood must we shed?' We have to combat poverty, unemployment and backwardness," Vajpayee said during India's 56th Independence Day on Friday.

     

    Thaw

     

    Despite a recent thaw, India and Pakistan have long been at loggerheads over Kashmir.

     

    Violence has rocked the picture-postcard region since 1989 with up to 70,000 people killed.

     

    Almost continuous low-level incursions caused relations between the two countries to plunge to almost catastrophic lows in 2002.

     

    Both Pakistan and India amassed troops on their borders and threatened to use their nuclear arsenals.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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