Only 20% Youths Joining Militancy In Kashmir Are Fanatics: Study

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New Delhi:  The history of educated Kashmiri youth turning to militancy goes all the way back to the late 1980s when trouble first started in the valley. Locals joining militancy remains a major challenge for the government, even as it talks about involving Kashmiri youth in development activities so as to keep them away from picking up guns.

According to a study by the Indian Army, only 20% of the youths joining militancy in the Kashmir valley are religious fanatics. The rest are drawn towards militancy due to multifarious reasons.

Senior army officials are of the opinion that the number of young Kashmiri men joining militancy has reduced drastically. They also reveal that masterminds of the terror organisations are targeting those who are vulnerable to exploitation. These include educated youths from economically weaker families who can be easily pressurised and threatened into joining militancy.

To curtail this, the Jammu & Kashmir government, police, army, and the CRPF to engage youth in different developmental activities and keep them away from militancy.

Some senior police officials don’t consider the number of locals taking up militancy as too big. They are more concerned more about glamourizing of militants through social media. “As a psychological operation, entry of every local into militant ranks is being exploited to attract more youth,” a senior police official, privy to many anti-militancy operations in South Kashmir.

The government often shuts down the Internet during crackdowns and encounters and has a history of banning social media for a few months.

According to police records, 214 Kashmiri youths picked up guns last year whereas 50 joined militancy this year till date. Similarly, 124 locals joined militancy in 2017, compared with 88 in 2016 and 66 in 2015. Before that, 53 locals took to arms in 2014 while the number was just 16 in 2013.

“In current militancy, individuals don’t matter; what matters is ideology and how it is being played up,” said another senior police official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Barring a few names, how many militants are known to the larger population in the state? What concerns us is that a few educated people from Kashmir are taking up arms.”

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