J&K: Calm Before The Storm?
23 August 2005
Jammu: On the surface, Jammu and Kashmir may have been witnessing a marginal decline in militancy, but recent incidents involving youth from the minority community has once again alerted the security apparatus about a possible flare-up in militant activity in the region. In the last one month, at least half a dozen youth have been found to be involved in the militant violence in the region and if reports are to be believed atleast another eight are still active in Doda region. Apart from this, the prospect of a large number of local youth converting to Islam and coercing their family members to also convert in the border districts of Doda, Rajouri and Poonch, is becoming a major cause of concern for the security agencies. Talking to The Pioneer, DIG Doda range Satvir Gupta confirmed the presence of atleast one dozen youth from the minority community in the region. The case of Uttam Singh, killed by security forces in Doda on Friday, Shyam Lal in Rajouri involved in the killing of three members of a Muslim family, and Kuldeep Sharma operating in Doda for the last six years cannot be seen as isolated cases, argue senior officers of J & K Police. There has been a change in the perception of local youth in recent months.The militant organisations especially Jaish-E-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiyyba (LeT) have managed to motivate disgruntled local youth to join them in return for easy money. Earlier, this was not the case and every time attempts were made the local youth resisted these attempts. The same is not the case, unemployed youth are a soft target for such militant organisations, a senior police officer told The Pioneer. 'The most tragic part of the whole story is large number of youth who were active members of the village defence committees in the dense forest areas have joined the armed struggle either under threat from militants or under pressure from other villagers'.The recent of killings in Mahore and Rajouri areas in Jammu region are just one example. Talking to The Pioneer, a senior police officer said the case of Kuldeep Sharma presently operating in Doda serves as perfect example to understand the recent phenomenon. Kuldeep was lured away by local militant commanders of Harkat ul Mujahiddeen (HUM) as he was fascinated by their lifestyle and simply took to arms. Later, he started putting pressure on villagers and their family members to convert to Islam or else face, the consequences . The police officer said, Kuldeep Sharma was 'fascinated' by the activities of his two friends,Atta Mohd. and Rizwan who were operating as HUM militants in Doda district. Another officer told The Pioneer 'We are waking up to the challenge as cases of involvement of local youth in militancy related violence and hawala transactions have been surfacing quite often. Though the trend is not new as isolated cases of involvement of the minority community have come to light earlier in the past but a perceptible change is being felt on the ground,add senior officials.