Militants used gullible teenagers in a couple of attacks recently on panchayat members in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, a top police officer said.
“What we know so far is that militants are using teenagers to attack panchayat members. This has been the pattern in two of the four attacks that have taken place since September last year,” the officer said.
Panchayat members were killed in September last year in Pattan area of the district.
One panch was killed in Sopore this month while a woman panch was critically injured in a separate militant attack.
The officer said it was difficult for security agencies to track down the assailants as they were not working full-time with militants or their overground workers.
“These boys are used as hitmen for monetary considerations. They are provided with weapons to carry out the attack and then go back to normal lives,” he said.
“However, they are not active full-time with militancy. It seems they are called upon only when required,” he added.
The police officer said the description of the boys, who carried out the twin attacks in Sopore this month, indicated that they were youngsters, probably teenagers.
“These boys feel powerful with a gun or pistol in hand. They have no idea what they are doing,” he said.
The officer said former militants were being used by active militants to act as conduit between the ultras and the hitmen.
“Some former militants in north Kashmir have been recycled into militancy. They are apparently leading a normal life, but are also maintaining contacts with militant groups,” the officer added.
He said the aim of the militants was to derail democratic and development processes by making panchayat members quit.
Over 1,200 panchayat members announced their resignations following two killings last year, while dozens have followed suit in wake of this month’s attacks.
However, most of these resignations have been announced through the media only. Authorities said they have received only one resignation this month.
The announcement of resignations last year also proved to be a survival tactic as only 500 panchayat members abstained from voting in the legislative council elections held in December last year.