Around 300 youths were killed in encounters in Kashmir in 2018 alone, the government and security forces should acknowledge that dynamics of militancy in the Valley has changed. The 2016 Burhan Wani’s killing gave birth to a ‘new phase of militancy’ in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). And it presents multiple security challenges.
Since the launch of ‘Operation All Out’ in 2017, the security forces have eliminated hundreds of militants but the recruitment drive and radicalization continues unabated in Kashmir. Interestingly, these ‘new militants’ lack skills and knowledge of arms survival but they are giving a tough time to the security forces.
The Centre for Internal and Regional Security has highlighted a worrisome trend that the recruits are not crossing over to Pakistan for arms training or seeking ideological motivation. “Instead, they are mostly self-motivated-some, well-intentioned and some disillusioned-local boys volunteering to join militant ranks to die for azaadi (freedom).”
Alienation of Kashmiri Youths
One of the key drivers is the continued alienation of Kashmiri youths. And Pakistan has pedalled the perception that the Kashmiri Muslims were being oppressed by Hindu-dominated India. The youth of Kashmir is undeniably the dominant player in the terrorist onslaught. It is of paramount importance to explore the factors that impact the thought process of the educated, politically conscious and free-thinking Kashmiri youth.
Some Kashmiris also blame the security agencies’ ill-treatment of the local youth for the growing anger and increasing recruitment. Widespread protests in 2008 and 2010 and Afzal Guru’s hanging in 2013 are other contributors to the current phase of militancy.” The think tank also highlights the social media platforms for sharing propaganda videos, letters, text messages further expanding militancy’s reach.
‘Weapon snatching’ from security forces, security personnel themselves taking off with the weapons and random firing at security personnel have notedly increased. This was evident in the recent municipal polls and panchayat elections. Then militants came up with new strategies – targeting the J&K police; and most recently, they went on a killing spree, wiping off ‘informers’.
The state administration and central government took ‘much-needed’ measures to strengthen the state police. According to the Centre for Internal and Regional Security anti-militancy operations were fortified under the Governor’s Rule. “There appears to be better coordination between the central and state security agencies in this regard. Cordon and Search Operations (CASOs) and Search and Destroy Operations (SADOs) may further increase in vulnerable areas such as the four districts of South Kashmir.”
But as per recent armed forces activities, they seem to be on an ‘elimination drive’. To prevent and avoid loss of life, they have to come up with new strategies. They have to win the Kashmiris over. It will take time but it has to be done. This is better than human cost.
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