After a lull of over a decade, militancy is slowly making a return in Kashmir, but this time with more locals than foreigners. This young breed of tech savy militants love wielding their guns for the camera and post it on social networking sites, turning it into a serious concern for the security establishment both in New Delhi and Srinagar.
Doval reportedly asked the government to create more and more job avenues for the youth so that they stay away from taking up the guns. He assured full support from the Union government.
Is unemployment really a reason?
In the recent years, local youth have started a fresh wave of militancy in Kashmir. The locals have swollen up the ranks of militancy and constitute a whopping 62 per cent of the total militants present in the valley. If it continued at the same pace, the situation will turn back to the way it was in the 1990s, when a massive armed rebellion erupted in the state.
The government has so far largely failed to keep local youth away from militancy. Top police officials and Army commanders keep reiterating that unemployment and lack of avenues are the main reason behind the rapid increase in militancy. But on the ground the reality is somehow different. There are boys who joined the militant ranks after either leaving their luxurious jobs or have meritorious educational background.
Ishaq Ahmad (19), who earned the sobriquet of 'Newton' for his meritorious academic performance after scoring 98.4 per cent in class X, joined militancy in March this year.
Similarly, Nisar Ahmad Pandit, the personal security officer of Jammu and Kashmir Minister Altaf Bukhari, fled with two service weapons and three magazines earlier this year. There are many such cases which are enough for people at the helm of affairs to cross-check and rethink if unemployment really is a reason.
How to keep youth away from militancy?
Ajit Doval, who is considered among the best intelligence officers in India, has not suggested any policy. Mufti’s 'healing touch' policy which he had coined in 2002 after taking over as the chief minister also failed. The only policy the state has in place is repression i.e. to harass the families of militants and those boys whom they doubt or are on the security radar.
This repressive policy has so far yielded no results. Repression has in no way worked.
The man who presently heads the new breed of militants in Kashmir is also a product of police’s brutal repression. During 2010 unrest, Burhan Muzzafar Wani (21) along with his slain elder brother was brutally beaten up by cops in his home town Tral - also known as Kandahar of Kashmir. It was on that day, Burhan according to reports , vowed to take revenge.
Burhan is now the Divisional Commander of militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen . His latest picture along with some 10 other local militants which circulated on Facebook a few weeks ago has put the whole security apparatus on tenterhooks. His elder brother Khalid Muzzafar was recently killed by Army in a 'staged' encounter. After the killing of Burhan's brother, he not only became more prominent but attracted more youth towards his mission.
'Pak trained' and 'home trained' militants
During 1990's armed rebellion, Kashmiri youth would cross LoC (the line that divides J&K and Pakistan administered Kashmir into two parts) to take up arms training. Now they are doing the training in the forests of Kashmir valley. They don't need to cross the LoC and this has in turn lessened their chances of getting killed. Locally, they are called 'home trained' militants, while their Pakistani colleagues, who are lesser in number are 'PaK trained' and are considered to be more trained in fighting guerrilla wars.
But training is in no way a concern for the government.
According to census of active militants done by the J&K police, local boys constitute 62 per cent of the total militants present in the valley. Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) tops the list with most number of recruits in the valley, relegating Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to the second place.
Hizb is also reportedly planning to revamp its command structure. It has done away with the structure to escape the focus of security agencies on its commanders. Data released by J&K; Police
Among the three regions, south Kashmir tops the list with 60 militants presently active in the region, all local youths and mostly with Hizb-ul Mujahideen . Reports citing the data released by the J&K police says that 33 youths have joined militants this year alone, of whom 30 are from south Kashmir. Most of the new recruits belong to the restive Tral township of Pulwama district.
Until now, north Kashmir had been the traditional base of militants. Of the 33 youths who joined militancy in the first six months of this year, 30 were from the south, three from the north, and none from the central part. While the total number of militants is still the largest in the north — 69 — only 25 of them are local youths and the rest are foreigners (see table).
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