Few days back, media houses were abuzz with the news of an Indian Army officer “caught” with a woman. Major Gogoi, a man who had received brick bats last year for tying a stone pelter to his vehicle in an attempt to save many lives sans firing a bullet, made it to the headlines again this week. But then we are not here to discuss the man, but the “woman” who was with him.
Ever since the rise of insurgency in the valley, our forces have relied heavily on their network of informers. They come in all shape and sizes; from a teenager boy to a lady in phiran, to an Eighty-year old man, any of them can come up with vital information on terrorists and their hide outs. No information can be snubbed. Remember Burhan Wani’sfuneral? Ever wondered why would a funeral of a terrorist, who gained fame through internet, gather so much crowd?
An able informer is one who ensures his presence in such funerals; being indifferent to deaths of terrorists and not mourning is like showing a red rag to the bull. You will often see these informers protesting on the roads, shouting anti-India slogans but that is just a part of their job. Our forces are aware that their “assets”, in an act to protect themselves from the prying eyes of terrorists, participate in such events.
Immediately after Burhan’s death scores of houses in the hamlet of Bamdoora, where the encounter had taken place, were burnt down in protest by the supporters of Burhan Wani. It was suspected that someone from the village had leaked information of Burhan’s presence to the forces. Albeit, it’s a completely different story that Army had laid a CASO in search of an undercover informer-turned- terrorist, Sartaj Ahmed Sheikh, who on that fateful day was present with Burhan Wani.
The brighter side of it!!!
None of this shadowy work is done for gratis, many of the people do it purely for the contentment it brings them for helping the forces, others may be taking revenge for wrongs against themselves or their loved ones, while for most of them the motivation is money.
First week of April this year, brought cornucopia of good luck for our forces when 13 terrorists were killed in south Kashmir; April 2nd would be etched in golden words in the history of military operations carried out in the valley. Overnight, a vacuum was created in the higher echelons of terrorists as their leaders were almost all eliminated. The credit for the operation goes to our brave soldiers, but it was also a day of triumph for the wide spread network of informers who were alert and nimble-footed in informing the forces about terrorist’s movements in the region.
It is said that this was a day when informers shared Rs 20million as reward money, “highest-ever” reward for a single day since the three decade old armed insurgency began in the region. Of course, not all of this money would be received by the informers, some of it goes to the operators, albeit gazetted officers are excluded. The rewards under cash for kill incentives have recently been revised and the money is really attractive.
Category of terrorist Incentive received earlier Updated incentive
A++ militants Rs 1 million Rs 1.25 million
A+ category militant Rs 500,000 Rs 750,000
A-category militant Rs 300,000 Rs 500,00
B-category militants Rs 200,000 Rs 300,00
C-category militants Rs 100,000 Rs 200,000
Indian army at an encounter site
While wars are fought by men, it’s the women who lurk in the dark that manage to gather info without anyone casting a shadow of doubt over them for being spies. No, these are not the lady James bonds with a tall frame and perfect figure; some large in girth, some veiled, others are old and some indulge in dangerous liaisons with the terrorists. Our sources reveal that most of the informers in the valley indeed are women, and some of them are not at all reticent about their double agent status. But then of course only one of the parties, for which they work, would be aware of their reality. This is the most perilous situation a spy can put herself into.
Often, terrorists seek shelters, and in the process they end up staying at the houses of local Kashmiris. Most of the terrorists are usually a nuisance to the locals and their girls; their amorous affairs and them forcing themselves on their victims is very common. When army shot down Abu Dujana, the LeT terrorist, he was at his girlfriend’s house, not very far away from the house of his wife. A lot of times “womanizing” terrorists, have more than a few affairs at a time and this has often landed them in trouble.
They say “Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a Fury, like a woman scorned”. Atleast 8 of the terrorists killed last year had either dropped their guards while frequenting houses of their partners or were ratted out by their jilted lovers.
Abu Dujana, Pakistani LeT terrorist, killed in 2017
The dark side of being a Mukhbir
An informer is called a mukhbir by locals, often this tag comes with a threatening to life.
During the late 80’s, at the onset of insurgency in the valley, Kashmiri Pandits were meted out with incessant roughshod treatment, after they were labelled informers by the hatred radiating speakers on some masjids. Ultimately the killings lead to exodus of KPs. The government is still dragging its feet over the decision to rehabilitate KPs in Kashmir.
A lot of times, poor and innocent kashmiris are killed by terrorists under the pretext that they were spying for the forces, when it could be nothing more than settling personal scores. Who knows it better than the family of Ishtiyaq wagay, who was kidnapped, forced to confess in a video and finally left to bleed to death merely because someone assumed he was an informer.
Ishtiyaq wagay,kidnapped and killed
It was during the Ramzan season last year when the shocking news of lynching of a Kashmiri police officer, Mohammad Ayub Pandith, came out. It is said that since he was dressed in a casual attire and was clicking pictures and videos of people around the mosque, he was suspected by some to be a police spy. When his body was being disfigured and defaced by a mob outside the Srinagar Jamia Masjid, the separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was still inside the mosque.
Police officer Mohammad Ayub Pandith
What gives Army an edge over the terrorists in the valley is its over-empowering base of informers; for this reason every time Army tightens its grip over them, J&K terrorists begin targeting informers. In the month of November,2017, within a short span of 10 days atleast 6 “informers” were killed mercilessly by JeM, in an attempt to send a message that the terror group will brutally deal with any leak of information about it. When faced with a threat to their life, some of the informers do double cross our forces, as a result many a times our soldiers have walked into death traps.
The role of dubious sources was suspected when Colonel Santosh Mahadik, commanding officer of 41 RR, during a CASO was forced to chase terrorists deep into the forests and was finally killed in action. So also in case of Colonel M.N. Rai, who died protecting civilians after a terrorist had duped the colonel, through his relatives, into believing he would surrender, during an encounter in Jan,2015, at Tral, Kashmir.
Col Santhosh Mahadik
Col MN Rai’ daughter at his funeral
A lot of times informers are surrendered terrorists. Despite the surrender most of them remain in touch with terror groups, this is a boon in disguise for our forces. But in some cases where they work grudgingly, so that they can avoid a jail term, there’s always a risk of an informer turning rogue as in case of Sartaj Ahmad Sheikh. In 90’s there was a pro-government militia called the Ikhwan force, which was largely composed of those who had surrendered after a stint in terror groups. Its leader Kuka Parray was shot dead in 2003, since then it has not been as active.
Survival in the valley is not for the weak hearted, only the fittest can thrive here; Kashmiris have learnt this onerous lesson after 3 decades of insurgency. Resuscitating Kashmir is a Himalayan task and Mukhbirs have a role to play. Risking their lives, they often become the targeting system for the forces to gun down the terrorists. An active informer calls himself Khair Khwdhi or well wisher of the state.
Meanwhile, Major Gogoi’s case has been resolved. But the mystery woman, prolly a Mukhbir, will still have to do elbow grease to lead a normal life.