New Delhi, Sept. 20: Drugs are being introduced into the deadly cocktail of arms, ammunition and indoctrination handed out to jihadis in Kashmir by their Pakistani backers.
Heroin and other drugs are being slipped into the equation to make the fighters depend- ent on their masters across the border, intelligence agencies claim.
The agencies say this is a new trend that has emerged over the last few months.
Drug trafficking is a common source of terrorist funding the world over and drug use among terrorists in Afghanistan well-known, but Kashmiri militants have always been relatively drugs-free.
But security forces have come across instances of drug use among Hizb-ul Mujahideen cadre who have recently crossed over from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
There is evidence suggesting that many of them now need a regular supply of drugs. This has puzzled security forces because drug addiction could hamper the functioning of the militants and weaken the separatist movement.
Intelligence agencies say that perhaps Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence wants to ensure that Kashmiri youth tiring of violence grow dependent on its drugs and, thus, do its bidding.
The ISI is worried that Mufti Mohammad Sayeeds healing touch policy is striking a chord with the people, weaning away youth from terrorism and bringing back tourists to the Valley.
Pakistan would be the biggest loser if normality returns to Kashmir, a senior official said.
They will not allow this to happen so perhaps getting local boys into the drug habit will help to keep them under ISI control, he added.
Delhi believes the renewed violence in Jammu and Kashmir and the attempt to get local militants hooked on drugs reveals Pakistans unease at the improvement in the situation there.
Local militancy has decreased in the state, it points out, adding that it is the foreign mercenaries and jihadis who still swear by the gun.
If some members of the Hizb and other outfits are made dependent on drugs, they will do the tasks given to them by those providing them their fix, the ISI seems to believe.
It is not known how correct the intelligence agencies are in their reading of the situation.
Drug-dependent militants could try to extort money from local residents to fuel their habit. This would antagonise the common man and weaken the militants cause.
Indian forces are keeping an eye on events as they unfold to see if the drugs flow changes the face and strength of militancy in Kashmir.