December 2016 News

2016 Saw Manifold Rise In Number Of Local Youths Joining Militancy

31 December 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: While there has been a manifold increase in militancy-related incidents this year, the major concern for the security agencies continues to be the spurt in local recruitment into militant outfits. This year nearly 90 local youths have taken up arms - the highest in a single year since 2013. According to official figures, the highest number of local youths who joined militancy this year were from south Kashmir's four districts - Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian. These four districts, which are the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bastion, have turned a fertile ground for militancy in the past few years. These districts were also the epicentre of the unrest this year that was triggered by the killing of local militant commander Burhan Wani. 'There has been a spurt this year in local recruitment into militant outfits as compared to 2015,' a senior police officer said. 'This year nearly 90 youths joined militant ranks, including some ex-militants,' he said. The officer said the joining of local youths was on the rise since 2013 and it was a 'cause for concern' for them. The trend of Kashmir youth, including educated boys, picking up the gun mainly began after Burhan Wani joined militancy in 2010. In 2013, official figures revealed that 20 youths had joined militancy. A year later there was a sudden jump when 56 youths took up arms, including 53 fresh recruits. The next year the number rose to 72. The figures showed this year that nearly local 90 youths joined militancy. A few of newly recruited militants were also killed during gunfights. These newly recruited militants are associated with Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Toiba militant groups. After the unrest broke out following the killing of Burhan, nearly 50 youths joined militancy. These newly recruited militants, the police said, were given basic arms training locally. To arm the new recruits, militants have resorted to looting of weapons in the Valley. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been repeatedly asking the police not to kill local militants during gunfights and instead 'try to bring them into the mainstream by capturing them alive.' In fact, forces have been able to persuade three newly recruited local militants to surrender.