The Indian Army may restrict the number of people attending the funeral of militants in the Kashmir valley because it has the potential to emotionally charge young, vulnerable minds and may become a hotbed for terror recruitment.
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According to the sources, efforts are being made to increase the deployment of security forces in and around the area where a slain militant belongs, and ensure that proper blockades are set up to check the size of the gathering.
In south Kashmir, where most local militants reportedly belong, surveillance will also be maintained around orchards, which people often use to take detours.
The primary idea behind the exercise is to preclude the possibility of large crowds joining the funerals, as they do now. It is also meant to choke the movement of militants, who are known to arrive at these funerals with guns to extol the “sacrifice”.
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In the past, top militants, including those identified as most dangerous (A++), have appeared at the Janazas of militants with assault rifles to offer “gun salutes”.
The restrictions were in place this Sunday at the funeral of Al Badr member Zeenat-ul-Islam, one of the Valley’s three most-wanted militants, at Sugan village in Shopian. However, they triggered clashes between security personnel and locals as mourners tried to forcibly join the Janaza by breaking down the barriers. Eleven people were injured in the clashes.
Since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July 2016, terror handlers and recruiters have allegedly begun tapping Janazas for recruitment. The death of Wani, who is credited with ushering in the era of the social-media-savvy militant in Kashmir, had triggered a wave of unrest in the Valley, with scores turning out to protest against his killing. The recruiters are said to fuel the sentiment of resentment triggered by the killings, and glorify the deaths as martyrdom, much to the consternation of local families.
“These Janazas tend to glorify the death of a terrorist,” said a source. “The slain terrorists are projected as martyrs. The slogan-shouting and emotions are a deadly combination. Many youngsters who take part in these professions tend to get mesmerised by this hero worship and even think that such death is a glory.”
“The presence of popular terrorists adds to the frenzy,” a source added. According to the source, many youngsters actually volunteer to join the terror groups at these Janazas, with some even leaving along with the militants.
“A few days later, the families themselves approach us, saying that their boy wants to come back,” said the source. “We have been instrumental in bringing back many of these youngsters.
“When the emotions dry up and they face reality, they understand that it is no glory at all,” said another source.
It was with a similar aim that the security establishment held discussions last year on whether to cease handing over the bodies of slain militants and bury them instead in the presence of their families. However, the plan was shot down. It was decided that it would be better to impose restrictions in a manner that does not escalate the situation further.