Polls on corner, forces employ strategy to keep local militancy on decline

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By KNO on 23/03/2019.

Polls on corner, forces employ strategy to keep local militancy on decline

Top official says figures of local boys joining armed groups to be reviewed in Nov this year, 682 militants killed since Jan 2016

Srinagar, March 23:  As the poll bugle has been blown by the Election Commission of India (ECI) with Lok Saba polls starting from April 11 in the trouble ravaged state of Jammu and Kashmir to be followed by Assembly polls, all the security agencies are in a huddle in Kashmir to ensure that local militant recruitment remains plugged on the lines of current year’s winter months.

Official data reveals that since January 2019, only ten local boys have joined various militant organizations but the number is too less as compared to the winters of 2017 and 2018.

Top security officials reveal that all the possible efforts are being taken to ensure that local youth are kept away from joining militant ranks so that normalcy prevails in the strife-torn region.

“We are in touch with the families where there is a suspicion that their children may join militancy. Efforts are on to ensure youth don’t get swayed and pick up arms. Families have a primary role as parents the primary school and mothers have a direct influence on their children,” said an official.

According to the data accessed by the KNO, in 2017 winter months, 35 youth joined militancy in Kashmir and majority of them were from the South Kashmir’s Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian districts. “In 2018, winter months, 30 youth joined militancy and in 2019 that is the (current year) only ten youth joined militancy which is less if compared to previous two years.

This is obviously a good sign, but at the same time, there are challenges ahead in the form of summer ahead. Schools, colleges will be abuzz, tourism will pick up, elections (first Lok Sabha polls) and Assembly polls this year, what remains to be seen is that whether recruitment will remain under control or shoot up,” a top security officer, privy to the data, told KNO.

The officer said that as part of the joint security strategy adopted by the forces in May 2017, under “operation all-out” 30 top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Ansaar Gazwatul Hind besides 682 militants in total since January 2016.

Ever since the killing of young and new age militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, who was killed in July 2016, Kashmir witnessed a surge in local militant recruitment with 2016 registering recruitment of 130 youth in militancy fold with 2017 witnessing 153 while 141 youth joined militancy in 2018.

“Recruitment obviously was a concern for all these years but thankfully, 2019 has a good start as only ten youth have joined. We have already appealed to the mothers twice and are ready to make more such appeals as mothers are the spiritual guides of their children,” a senior army officer told KNO.

Interestingly, General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based 15 Corps headquarters Lt General KJS Dhillon also made two appeals since he took over the reins of corps to mothers of local militants to persuade their sons to return back to their families and join mainstream