Security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir have expressed concern at the rising number of local youths wanting to join militant ranks in north and central Kashmir, where previously the number of home-grown militants was low. While the focus of security grid is on south Kashmir, there have been umpteen attempts by youths in central and north Kashmir to join militant ranks in past three months. Police say they have arrested more than 50 youths trying to join militant ranks. Of them, 41 were arrested from north and central Kashmir.
“During the last few months, 54 youths have been arrested from different parts of Kashmir,” said police spokesman SP Manoj Kumar. “Of these, 28 youths have been arrested from Baramulla, Kupwara, Sopore, Handwara and Bandipore in north Kashmir,” he said. While Kashmir is seeing a resurgence in militancy, the focus of security agencies has been on south Kashmir where a large number of youths joined militant ranks after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Police records show that more than 80 local youths have joined militant outfits in the four districts of south Kashmir —Kulgam, Shopian, Anantnag and Pulwama.
In fact, militancy has seen a resurgence in some parts of south Kashmir where there wasn’t any militant presence for about a decade now. However, what has worried security agencies is a similar trend in north and central Kashmir. Police sources say it could become a headache for security agencies. “Until now, north Kashmir mainly had the presence of foreign militants. There were local militants there but their number was very low,” said a senior police officer dealing with counterinsurgency operations in the Valley. “Our entire focus was on the south and we somehow ignored north Kashmir.”
It is not just the north Kashmir where youths are keen to join the militant ranks. Police records show that at least 13 boys from central Kashmir, keen to join militant ranks, were arrested from central Kashmir — comprising Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts. For over a decade, the Srinagar district was seen as militant-free by the police but during the past one year at least four boys have joined militant ranks.
The latest attempt by youths to join militant ranks was made by a group of boys from the frontier Kupwara district. These boys wanted to cross over the Line of Control for arms training in Pakistan.