After a slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant’s son Bilal Ahmad Shah, another youth Fahad Mushtaq Waza from Srinagar’s Khanyar old city area has joint militant ranks. A picture of Waza, carrying an AK-47 rifle, appeared on the social networking sites on Tuesday, police said. According to the state police, at least five youths have joined militant ranks in the Valley in the past 10 days sending alarm bells within the security agencies, while local sources claim at least 25 youths have taken up arms since January.
Last year, around 126 local youths had joined militant ranks in Kashmir, many of whom were killed in different encounters with security forces. A day after Waza’s picture holding an AK-47 rifle went viral on the social media, his family members appealed to him to return home. Waza is the second from the city to join a militant group this year. Police sources say, at least three youths from the city were already active.
The trend of local boys picking up guns began after Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani was killed in an alleged encounter in 2016 at Kokernag in south Kashmir. “This is a worrying trend…Though some boys have returned to their families after joining militancy, still this is a matter of concern and efforts are on to stop it,” a senior police officer told The Indian Express.
Last week, the youngest son of Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, chairman of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat who replaced Syed Ali Shah Geelani, also joined militant ranks. Junaid Ashraf Khan, a 28-year-old management graduate, joined the Hizbul Mujahideen in south Kashmir. On March 17, a picture of Bilal Ahmad Shah (25), who had been missing since first week of March, appeared on the social media holding an AK-47 rifle. Shah’s father, a former Hizbul Mujahideen militant who was killed in an encounter in early 90’s, is believed to have also joined the militant outfit.
Earlier in January, a research scholar from Kupwara, Manan Wani’s photograph arrpeared on the social media holding an under-barrel grenade launcher, with a message claiming that he has joined the militancy.
In a marathon meeting, held earlier this week, senior police and Army officers had briefed Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba on the rise in fresh recruitment in Valley. Police sources said most of these youth who joined militancy ranks were from south Kashmir.