[Solved] The banning of ‘Jammat-e-Islami’ in Jammu and Kashmir brought into focus the role of over-ground workers (OGWs) in assisting terrorist organizations. Examine the role played by OGWs in assisting terrorist organizations in insurgency affected areas. Discuss measures to neutralize influence of OGWs. (UPSC GS-3 Mains 2019)

The OGW networks are under the scanner following frequent attacks and targeted killing of policemen, especially in south Kashmir.

 • The police believe that OGW networks help militants with specific information to choose their targets.

 • Initially OGWs were primarily involved in logistics support and intelligence gathering.

 • But now the distinction has blurred considerably with OGW also capable of carrying out small scale strikes while retaining the capability to mix rapidly with the population.

 • OGWs have become a significant tool for strategic communication and recruitment by their handlers in J&K.

 • OGWs constantly work towards the development of a negative sentiment in the minds of the socalled grey population or fence sitters in an insurgency.

 • One of the OGWs, Jamaat-e-Islami’ (J-K) is “intrinsically linked with United Jihad Council (based in Pakistan) which is the umbrella organization of all major terrorist outfits”.

 Measures to neutralize influence of OGWs.

 • OGWS can be identified by intelligence agencies tracking cyberfunding and physical currency as funds for terror.

 • Intelligence-based sting operations should be launched over a period of time for gathering proof of their damaging activities of recruiting, radicalising or merely pushing the youth into militancy.

 • Categorisation of OGWs

 To fight this most important tool of terrorism and proxy war it is important to categorise the OGWs so that separate response strategies can be made for each one of the categories. Although operating as larger network, the OGWs in Kashmir can be broadly categorised under the following heads: – OGWs for Logistic Support (OGWLS) to Strike teams.

 – OGWs managing Funding

 – OGWs providing Ideological Support

 – OGWs providing Radicalization Support.

 – OGWs for Recruitment of Terrorists.

 – OGWs generating negative Perceptions and Sentiment amongst the people.

• There is definitely a need to jointly map the OGWs, terrorists and anti-national elements through a multi-agency effort so that the intelligence picture generated is in sync with ground realities and not based on perceptions of various agencies.

 • Due care should also be taken to ensure that police gets the credit for any operation launched based on joint intelligence as their empowerment, in the long run, will be beneficial.

 The PSA provides an ideal tool to book anti national elements and OOGWs to prevent them from disrupting peace and security.

 • However, care should be taken to ensure that only hard core OGW are booked under this act. Random booking of youths under this act completely eliminates an individual’s chance to come back to society and thus would be readily available to the terrorists for indoctrination.

 • The time spent in jails should also be monitored so as to prevent them from interacting with hard core terrorists and fundamentalists.

Roles played by OGWs

 Financial support

 The terrorists need monetary support to carry out their activities. This is provided through various sympathisers including the groups which function in the guise of social organisations.

 Political support

 The OGWs gather enough political clout in order to influence official authorities and help terrorists insurgency related activities. They also provide immunity against arrest.

 Ex: CPI(ML) provides political support to Naxalites.

 Social sympathy

 Some organisations try to gather support for insurgents from the academecia and social spheres so that there is sense of sympathy for their activities.

 Ex: Elgar Parishad’s role in supporting Maoism.

 Measures to neutralise influence of OGWs

 Stoppage of foreign funding

 Foreign funds are the main sources of income for the OGWs, which in turn is diverted to terrorism and insurgency. Stopping them will reduce functioning of OGWs.

 Reducing their public influence

 To stop them from seeking poular support, it is necessary to reduce their influence in the society. This can be done through bringing out proof of their illegalities in front of the public.

 Academic cleansing

 It is necesary to create a academic system of universities and colleges devoid of such radical idealogies. If the influence of PGWs is reduced among academecia, there are great chances of dying down of the movement in the future.

  • The role played by OGWs in assisting terrorist organizations in insurgency affected areas: Though these workers look benign in the face of it, they are the most dangerous to society as well as the security forces.
  • OGWs have become a significant tool for strategic communication and recruitment by their handlers in insurgency affected areas.
  • The individuals booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) of J&K and other insurgency affected areas, who spend time in jails with hardcore terrorists, provide an ideal breeding ground for potential recruits.
  • In most cases, the procedure seems to follow a standard pattern that starts out with youth being used to target security forces via stone pelting for money, progressing through more serious vandalism and then being an OGW wherein he provides logistical support for strike teams.
  • The more resilient and motivated youth are then assigned jobs of more serious nature like grenade throwing and snatching of the weapon before they join the mainstream groups for more serious actions.
  • It is a well-known fact that OGWs can constantly work towards the development of negative sentiment in the minds of the so-called grey population or fence-sitters in an insurgency.
  • The attack by Pakistani terrorists at Sunjuwan gives this clear impression that the group had infiltrated months ago and were assisted by OGWs.
  • For eg, Jammat acts as the main conduit of militancy. Its cadres function as OGWs providing infrastructure support and the protective shell in which the militants operate.
  • They also help in arranging logistics, weapons, shelter and facilitating movements.
  • Movement without weapons has thus become the order of the day.
  • Thus, a present-day terrorist may not be easy to identify and would operate in the grey area between that of an OGW and terrorist.
  • They instigating people to demonstrate on trivial grounds in order to demoralize and discredit the security forces.
  • Measures to neutralize the influence of OGW
  • Increasing intelligence and police personnel,
  • Effective crackdown on funding through enhanced surveillance,
  • Further, the time spent in jails should also be monitored so as to prevent them from interacting with hardcore terrorists and fundamentalists.
  • Can take the help of Community leadership to counter the militant propaganda of OGW.
  • Ensuring that development is inclusive in nature to counter the feelings of alienation.
  • There is definitely a need to jointly map the OGWs, terrorists and anti-national elements through a multi-agency effort so that the intelligence picture generated is in sync with ground realities and not based on perceptions of various agencies. The Perception and Psyche of governance is the key to the solution of the problem and the highest standards of propriety and well thought out strategic communication for the different categories of the OGWs will separate the fish from the pond.

Way forward:

 The Perception and Psyche of the people is the key to the solution of the problem and highest standards of propriety and well thought out strategic communication for the different categories of the OGWs will separate the fish from the pond.

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