Syed Salahuddin, the commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, once claimed his group can launch attacks on Indian civilians from anywhere. Photo: AFP

Indians have reason to worry after a national TV channel aired an audio clip on Wednesday revealing a terrorist plan to use chemical weapons against security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.

The revelation comes after a terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims that killed seven in Batingoo, near Anantnag, late on Monday.

Talks intercepted in June by Indian security agencies and accessed by News 18 point to a plot by the Kashmiri separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen to use chemical weapons to inflict heavy casualties on security forces.

In the audio clip, a Hizbul member is heard telling his Pakistani handler that the terror group is in possession of deadly weapons.

Killing four or five Indian soldiers or cops in grenade attacks is not enough, he says: the damage should be far more severe and a chemical attack is likely to occur in Jammu and Kashmir any time after Eid.

Hizbul is said to have assisted members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba in Monday’s attack on Amarnath pilgrims. The group is headed by Syed Salahuddin, whom the US recently designated a global terrorist. Talking on a TV show in Pakistan early this month, Salahuddin said Hizbul could launch attacks on Indian civilians from anywhere.

Talking on a TV show in Pakistan early this month, Salahuddin said Hizbul could launch attacks on Indian civilians from anywhere

If Hizbul uses chemical weapons on Indian soldiers or civilians, it will draw global condemnation and push the two nuclear neighbors to the brink of war. Such an eventuality remains very remote but it cannot be ruled out.

Reports allege that Pakistan’s army has used chemical weapons internally: against Pashtuns in Waziristan and Baluch tribespeople in Baluchistan. Since these weapons have now fallen into the hands of Hizbul terrorists, the consequences may be far more severe on the Indian side.

India has limited options to avert such a situation. Peace talks with stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir will not be countenanced by New Delhi if the separatist organization Hurriyat, which views Kashmir as an occupied territory, is to be involved.

Video clips accessed by media show Hurriyat leaders are funded by Pakistan-based terror groups fomenting trouble in Jammu and Kashmir. Reports indicate New Delhi may also soon ban Hizbul in the wake of the Anantnag killings.

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