September 2016 News

80 Youth Join Rebel Ranks After Burhan's Killing In Kashmir

16 September 2016
Kashmir Dispatch

Srinagar: A considerable number of Kashmiri youths, especially from South Kashmir, have been missing and are believed to have joined the ranks of rebel groups after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen rebel Burhan Wani in July this year. A conglomerate of four districts - Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag, the epicenter of the ongoing uprising, is believed to have accounted for the disappearance of nearly 80 youths in past two months with majority from Pulwama district, sources in the know said. According to the intercepts of rebels groups and some sketchy intelligence inputs gathered from the ground in South Kashmir, youths were mainly moving towards Hizbul Mujahideen rebel group with a few attracted to Lashker-e-Taiba, they said. Senior officials in the security establishment agreed that there was no clear picture of situation in South Kashmir's rural areas and with army and security forces being pushed into these places, a clear picture will emerge. Police has been forced to concentrate more on law and order than on counter-insurgency operation in the last two months there has been little intelligence that has been generated during the period, they said. Simultaneously, the government forces including army is moving quietly into South Kashmir, which has been the most politically sensitive area of the Valley and centre point of 2-month old agitation, to 're-claim' the lost ground from the agitators and bring some semblance of rule of law. During a recent meeting, army top officials suggested that there was a need for 're-claiming the areas which had been under occupation of protesters' after which troops have been moved in for area domination. Traffic on the highway was being regulated and allowed to move only in a convoy, the officials said. This has been happening because of protests post killing of Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. 80 people have been killed so far while above 10000 have been injured in the uprising. South Kashmir, a traditional bastion of ruling PDP which is having an alliance government with the BJP, has become into a virtual breeding ground for militants with many youths joining their rank and file or becoming their sympathisers. Better intelligence network of rebels, assistance of people to local rebels, heavy turnouts at the funerals of rebels and stone-pelting on government forces even during encounters has virtually become a routine affair in the region. Small boys armed with stones, lathis have laid a virtual seize of arterial roads leading to the national highway thereby restricting the movement. Constant engagement of protesters with government forces show little signs of things returning to normalcy any time soon. Pictures emerging from lanes and by lanes show written slogans favouring 'independence', support to rebels groups and glorification of rebels killed in encounters with the government forces. The sources said that the figure of youth joining various rebel groups could easily cross 100 mark once a detailed district wise analysis was carried out. Last year, out of the 90 youths, who had joined rebel groups, 80 per cent of them hailed from various districts of South Kashmir alone. The worst-hit areas are Heff-Shrimal in Shopian district, Samboora, Lillahar, Pulwama town and Tral of Pulwama district, Qaimooh and Redhwani in Kulgam district and Redhwani in Anantnag district. These are the areas which are dotted with apple orchards and lead to dense forests where rebels are holed up, the officials said, adding that in case the army mounts pressure on one side, they escape and mingle with the local population on the other. The intelligence network of the rebel groups, which had ended in mid-1990s, has revived again and the rebels come to know about the advancement of the forces, giving them an advantage to flee the area, the officials said. The adjoining jungles which are dotted with poplar and pine trees provide a platform for rebels to train new recruits, the officials said, adding there have been information that rebels were being trained in Kamla forest of Shopian district but when raids were conducted, no one could be found.