As many as 191 local youths have joined diverse militant groups in 2018, this time, 65 more than 2017, security agencies have told Republic. The count is far higher than previous years and indicates that the approaching summer months could be even more troublesome than usual in the Valley.
Most of the young men who have joined the militant ranks come from South Kashmir districts---Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag, districts that have become a breeding ground for militants with many youths joining their rank and file.
As the data available “As many as 191 Kashmiri youths joined militancy in 2018, when 126 locals had joined militant ranks in 2017.
Out of the 191 recruits in 2018, 139 alone hailed from south Kashmir. The highest — 59 — was from Pulwama district of south Kashmir.
The saga of young men being attracted towards militancy in the Valley continues unabated.
A senior police official posted in south Kashmir who wished not to be named for obvious reasons said, “The present lot that joined militant ranks include many who shunned education to pick up the gun. Many of such boys are college passed outs. There are scholars in their ranks as well. Like Muhammad Rafi Bhat, who was an assistant professor from Ganderbal, was killed in an encounter in Pulwama just 40 hours after joining militancy. Similarly, PhD scholar-turned-militant Manan Bashir Wani was killed in Kupwara encounter, 2017.
Most of those, who were eliminated had joined militant ranks just about a year ago or so.
Today’s militancy also has even seen some teenagers and bright students leaving their studies to pick up guns.
Mudasir Rashid Parray (14), a student of eighth standard was killed in Dec 2018. Mudassir (3-month-old militant) became the youngest militant to get consumed by the 3 decades bloody conflict in the state. His killing has once again brought to fore the fact that more and more juveniles are getting attracted towards militancy.
Ishaq Ahmed Parray alias Newton scored 98.4 percent in class X and 85 percent in class XII, Newton disappeared from his home in March 2015 and joined Hizbul Mujahideen. A year later, he was killed in a gunfight in his hometown ‘Dadsara’ village in south Kashmir’s Tral area.
Looking at the trend of young local boys joining militants, J&K Police, Army and CRPF in a joint appeal to militants claimed that ‘doors of surrender’ are open for all local militants even if they do so during ‘encounters or operations.'
“Local militants who want to surrender, we will support them completely. We will do whatever we can, to rehabilitate them. And even during encounters, if they come out and drop arms, we will accept them. We will continue with this policy,” Inspector General of police (Kashmir) S. P Pani said
However, on a few occasion, security forces got success when militants surrendered but most of the times it was seen both security forces and parents helpless as militants (misguided youngsters) with the belief that they are fighting for freedom, refused to surrender and got killed.
Bashir Manzar, editor of Daily Kashmir Images, believes, “multiple reasons are there for spurt in local youth joining militancy. Rise in pan-Islamisation, religious indoctrination, large crowds attending funerals of killed militants, sloganeering, and the way Hurriyat and its sympathisers glorify the death of militants”, Manzar also cited another major reason of non-engagement of youth by the respective state as well as central government’s into some constructive discourse, and also lack of any constructive dialogue between stake holders.