Intel agencies advise against blanket cover

In a fresh twist to the ongoing controversy over a possible threat to the 34,000-odd elected village representatives in Jammu and Kashmir, the Central intelligence agencies have advised the state government that, “it may not be prudent to provide security cover to all the sarpanches and panches and it is advisable to carryout in-depth threat assessment first.”
The advisory is significant since intelligence agencies feel that some of the village representatives might be hand in glove with the subversive elements in creating a fall sense of insecurity among the sarpanches and panches. Highly-placed sources in the home ministry feel that this may well be a deliberate ploy to shift the focus of security forces in the Valley fully realising that providing security cover to all the elected village representatives will be a huge burden on the forces and it will divert their focus from anti-militancy operations in the state.
The home ministry is closely monitoring the situation in the Valley as the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, had on Sunday threatened all elected village representatives to resign. At a time when the number of militants operating in the Valley has hit a record low, top militant leaders are getting desperate to ensure that the security personnel get diverted to other activities.
“There is reason to believe that a sizeable chunk of these sarpanches and panches are sympathetic to some militant groupings. So they might be snowballing the controversy into a huge issue with some ulterior motives. The fact of the matter is that there are not enough militants operating in the Valley right now to launch an offensive against majority of panchayats,’’ a senior intelligence official said.
Meanwhile, both Central and state security agencies have already started carrying out a detailed threat perception of the village representatives. “If there is a genuine need to give security cover to someone we will definitely do it. But there cannot be a blanket cover for everybody,’’ a senior home ministry official remarked.
The success of panchayat elections in the state last year was seen as an important move in restoration of normalcy in the Valley.
State chief minister Omar Abdullah too suspected the timing of Salahuddin’s threat saying, “Why has he suddenly jumped into this bandwagon of issuing threats.” “As far as security is concerned, we are geared up to deal with any eventuality,” he said.

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