For the first time in a decade, local militants have outnumbered non-Indian ones in Kashmir, according to a police census. This is after 33 Kashmiri recruits from various parts of the valley, especially the south, joined militant ranks in the first six months of the year.
The police census of militants puts their strength at 142 — 88 of them local and 54 foreign nationals, mostly from Pakistan. The highest concentration is in south Kashmir at 60, all local youths and most with Hizb-ul Mujahideen. Of the 33 who have joined up this year, 30 are from south Kashmir. This had been happening most prominently in Tral, a township in Pulwama district and a new base of the group commandeered by Burhan Muzaffar Wani, 21, the face of modern militancy in Kashmir. The report says 44 youths had gone missing from south Kashmir in the past six months and 30 of them have joined militant ranks. Of the rest, 12 returned and the police have no information about two.
In north Kashmir, 69 militants operate out of whom 25 are locals. At 44. militants from abroad are concentrated highest here. The report says 38 youths had gone missing from the region and three joined militants, 29 returned and there is no information about the remaining six.
The lowest concentration of militants is in central Kashmir, comprising Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts. The report says 13 militants are operating here and 10 of them are from abroad. There is no concrete information about any youth joining militancy in recent months. The report says 23 youth from central Kashmir had gone missing this year out of whom 17 returned while there is no information about the other six.
The report says the militants are not relying on the “old overground workers” anymore. “The new trend reveals that terrorist cadres have influenced the impressionable youth… a significant number have gone missing in recent past,” the report says.
Hizb, an indigenous outfit, has once again come on centrestage of militancy, relegating Lashkar-e-Toiba to second place. Hizb, sources say, is planning to revamp its earlier command structure. It had done away with the structure to escape the focus on security agencies on its commanders.