Involvement of educated people in violence matter of concern

Killings, grenade attacks, bomb blasts and encounters between militants and security forces are nothing new in Kashmir.

This has been a routine affair in Kashmir Valley for the last 23 years. But the recent trend of highly qualified youth joining militant ranks can’t be brushed aside casually. Scores of militants who got killed in South Kashmir during past few years were highly qualified and belonged to affluent families.

The statistics indicates that highly educated people have joined indigenous militant organisation Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). Javid Malik, from Pinjran Pulwama in South Kashmir, an electrical engineer was killed by the Army in an encounter in 2008. Johar Ali, a hardcore HM militant,  was also an engineer and got killed in a shootout with Army same year.

Massiullah was an M Tech who lost his life in Dudhkulan Lurgam encounter in 2010. Another militant Nayeem Ahmed Mir, a B-Tech pass out from Dadsara Tral breathed his last during a gunfight with Army at Dudhkulan Lurgam in 2010. A computer engineer by profession, Altaf Ahmed from Tral and Mudasir who was a doctor were both HM militants killed by Army in 2009. Rafiq who got killed last month had recently completed his B Tech and had joined Hizb ranks only a month ago. Sajad Ahmad Mir of Litter Puwlama, who was killed by forces in an encounter last week, was a MCA student before joining militant ranks in January 2009.

The involvement of highly qualified people in violent means to achieve their goal is something which needs to be looked in a perspective. In the initial years of armed insurgency a few educated people got associated with militancy, but soon they realised that violence was futile. Earlier uneducated youth belonging to poor families were being recruited in militant outfits because for them lure of money was greater than love of life.
To join the militant ranks is a personal decision of an individual. There is no doubt that a highly qualified person who chooses violent path has a conviction to do so. An educated boy getting convinced to take to violence is something which should be seen as an alarm bell. There is a danger associated with it as such a trend could become a fashion for others who think that Kashmiris have been getting a raw deal.

However, the denial of justice always has a potential to breed contempt towards a particular system. Here, too, the state machinery’s approach towards the people, particularly the youth, has a lot to do with this new trend among the young educated people.

Educated youth

Due to failure of the state government in resolving the problem of unemployment and its inability to fill up over 80000 vacant posts, a sizable number of educated youths are being lured to join militancy in Kashmir.  Growing unemployment has assumed alarming proportions ever since turmoil broke out in the state in early 1990s. Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges before the government in the state.

If intelligence inputs are to be believed growing frustration among the educated youth on account of their failure in finding jobs has been persuading them to join militancy as they to receive monetary support from militant outfits. Intelligence and security agencies are said to have sent a proposal to the centre suggesting to New Delhi to provide technical and financial assistance to the Jammu and Kashmir government for resolving the problem of unemployment failing which highly educated youth may be forced to take to the guns.

Highly educated youth getting involved in ‘Jihad’ is not new to the Islamic world. There is a history and even the deadly al- qaeda and Taliban had some fine brains to run its operations. Even those educated in the United States and other western countries lend an active support to Osama bin Laden who wanted to conquer the world. The hijackers of September 11 attacks were highly educated trained pilots who took the whole world by surprise with their level of conviction.

But situation in Kashmir is different. A majority of local youth, who were swayed by the gun in early 1990s have abandoned the path of violence and want better career avenues. During the early years of militancy, they refused to join the Army. However, in recent years hundreds of educated unemployed Kashmiri youth have joined the Army and other para-military forces. This is in sharp contrast to the early 1990s, when Kashmiri youth hated the armed forces.

There has been decline in percentage of militancy related violence by 36 per cent during 2012 as compared to the year 2011. With dwindling violence it is a golden opportunity for both state and Central governments to ensure that people who voted for development, job creation for unemployed youth and an improvement in the working conditions of institutions get their due. Both governments have a job to do and help rehabilitate youth who have suffered during the past few decades of armed conflict. If the government cannot provide government jobs to all it should at least create conditions for the growth of entrepreneurship in Kashmir beyond traditional activities like tourism.

The alienation of Kashmiri youth has to be addressed at the earliest and New Delhi needs to take into account their sentiments. Kashmir’s burgeoning youth population is an untapped asset and represents a potential opportunity for positive economic and social change.

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