October 2001 News

Jihad the new obsession for J&K youth

29 October 2001
The Statesman
Kavita Suri

Srinagar: Anger in Kashmir over the attacks on Afgha-nistan has fuelled a recruitment drive of thousands of youths eager to fight against the USA. They have the support of the ISI, now focusing on recruitment of youngsters, despite Pakistan’s support to the USA. Though only a few groups of Kashmiri youths had crossed into PoK recently, many others were trying to do so to get arms training, officials said. Recently, 14 Kashmiri youths entered PoK from Poonch district’s Loran area. Security forces in Kashmir valley are worried over the overwhelming response to join the jihad. The BSF Intelligence chief in Kashmir, Mr Rajinder Singh Bhullar, DIG, said the main reason for these youngsters’ response to a call to arms is that they ‘‘have seen nothing but bloodshed in the valley’’. For, it’s easy to indoctrinate them because they grew up with militancy. Surprisingly, these youths, recruited by outfits and taken to Pakistan, have been creating problems for their mentors too. During training, many of them become homesick, said Mr Bhullar. No wonder, the ISI has been telling its hitmen in the valley not to recruit such youths and to go for older men. The figures provided by the BSF show the exodus from Kashmir valley has been the highest this year. Till September, 257 people had crossed over into PoK. The next highest figure was 255 in 1996. The data show only 786 militants infiltrated into J&K this year. But Kashmir police chief, Dr AK Bhan, said about 450 people had crossed over from Kashmir this year. More than 100 people were picked up by the forces and then sent back to their parents. “But from now on, we’ve decided to take proper action against the youths because they are, directly or indirectly, involved in militancy,” said the Kashmir IG. Police have initiated action against 15 to 20 youths, who had tried to cross over to the other side. “We used to think that these young gullible boys should be given a chance to rectify themselves, but we will not be doing it now,” said Dr Bhan. Reports have surfaced in the valley on two youths, among 183 Kashmiris to cross over into Pakistan to join the jihad in Afghanistan early this month, having been killed in US attacks. A newspaper, quoting Intelligence sources, flashed the report on Friday but couldn’t identify them. The report said most of the 183 youths, between 16 and 21 years of age, were among the 800 youths to cross over into Pakistan in the past three months. They had entered Pakistan for training in arms and explosives. As many as 782 youths, including 76 Kashmiris, migrated to Pakistan from Kupwara and Baramulla during the past three months, it said. Besides, about 600 militants are poised on the LoC in PoK, waiting to return. Mr Bhullar said since vigil along the LoC had been tightened, exodus and infiltration had reduced. More than 25 routes used by militants are being plugged with mines and troops.


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