The use of combat uniform by militants in Jammu & Kashmir, despite a ban on its sale and purchase by civilians in the state, has worried the armed forces, who want stricter imposition of the ban to avoid the misuse of the uniform.
Militants have been wearing the camouflage uniform of the Army, BSF and CRPF during attacks. They also don the combat gear in videos uploaded on social media. Recently, the Jaish-e-Mohammed men who carried out Fidayeen attacks in Pulwama and Srinagar wore the combat uniform. In fact, during an operation at a BSF camp near Srinagar airport, according to a senior official, one of the CRPF officers took a moment to open fire at a terrorist wearing combat uniform, as the officer briefly mistook him as one of the troopers.
Even though the ban has been imposed for many years now, the olive-green uniform or the special cloth could be easily procured from the market. Some of the big fashion stores also sell camouflage shirts and trousers. The Army and paramilitary forces, as per reports, have written to the defence ministry to impress upon the state government to strictly impose the ban.
Senior militant commanders from Burhan Wani, who was killed last year, to currently active Riyaz Naikoo have donned combat uniform in their videos circulating on the Internet. Small groups also prefer to travel in interiors of villages or jungles wearing camouflage uniform for deception and avoid unplanned engagement with security forces.
Earlier this year, militants barged into houses of many police officials and political workers wearing combat uniform, asking them to resign from their positions and join the separatist movement.
Recently, two constables of the J&K police were arrested from Shopian district of South Kashmir for supplying ammunition to Hizbul-Mujahideen members. “If they manage to get ammunition, uniform is a very easy thing to procure,” a senior police official told ET.
Army officials and other troopers are directed to buy uniforms from authorised dealers and get it stitched from selected tailors or shops. Shopkeepers have to check the identity card of any such customer wanting to buy or stitch olive-green clothes. “There should be an inquiry that why this is not being implemented, as it is a serious security issue,” said a senior paramilitary official posted in Kashmir.