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Kashmir sees rise in number of militants

DH News Service, Srinagar, Nov 20 2017, 17:15 IST
Fresh recruitment coupled with infiltration, has ensured that the numbers of militants does not go down.

Fresh recruitment coupled with infiltration, has ensured that the numbers of militants does not go down.

Despite security forces neutralising 190 militants this year, the highest over the last decade, the number of active ultras operating in Kashmir has increased due to fresh recruitment and infiltration from across the border.

"While 80 local militants were killed this year, more than 100 local youths have joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammad over the first 10 months this year. Some 30-40 heavily armed militants, mostly foreigners, have also managed to infiltrate into Kashmir from Pakistan," a senior police officer, involved in counter-insurgency operations, told DH.

He said fresh recruitment coupled with infiltration, has ensured that the numbers of militants do not go down, despite "operation all out" by the security forces.

Of the 190 militants killed this year, 110 were foreigners and mostly killed near the Line of Control (LoC).

"The fact is that militant numbers have increased compared to the last year. The sustained militant recruitment this year is a worrying trend. Growing street unrest, especially in 2016, helped militants recruit more and more youth. Even after losing several commanders and cadres this year, LeT, Hizbul and Jaish have enough manpower and weapons to strike at security forces and civilian targets," the officer revealed.

Sources in the intelligence agencies said increasing cash and weapon-snatching incidents this year in the Valley indicate there is a far larger component of local recruits among the 250-300 active militants.

"Militant handlers in Pakistan are encouraging looting of banks to access cash as well as snatching of weapons as it helps it maintain deniability of its role as a sponsor of terrorism in J&K and project it as homegrown militancy," they said.

General-Officer-Commanding of the army's strategic 15-Corps Lieutenant General J S Sandhu said the militant leadership in Pakistan has, of late, been sending close relatives to Kashmir as a "motivational force to rope in more local youth into militancy."

"The militant leaders are facing questions by their own people in their own homeland. So they are under pressure to send their close relations to Kashmir. Plus, the blood relations of top militant leaders are being sent here as a motivational force to woo as many local youths as possible," General Sandhu said.

This month, nephews of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Jaish chief Moulana Masood Azhar, have been killed by security forces in two separate encounters in the north and south Kashmir.

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