SRI NAGAR: Despite more than 200 militants being killed by security forces in Kashmir this year, there has been a rise in militant recruitment. According to police, 117 youths joined militant ranks in Kashmir in 2017, the highest figure in the last seven years.
According to police data, more than 90 youths from south Kashmir, comprising the four districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian, joined militancy this year. South Kashmir was the epicentre of last year’s unrest after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, and continues to be a trouble spot for security agencies.
As per the figures, 12 youths took up arms in Anantnag, 45 in Pulwama and Awantipora, 24 in Shopian and 10 in Kulgam.
At least 17 youth turned militants in north Kashmir comprising three districts of Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora.
“Four youths joined militant ranks in Kupwara, six in Baramulla and seven in Bandipora,” the document states.
Bandipora, was once the hub of counter insurgents, has become a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) stronghold. At least six top LeT militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Hajin area of Bandipora last month. A Garud commando of Indian Air Force was also killed in the gunfight.
The police statistics reveal that five youth joined militants in Srinagar and four in central Kashmir’s Budgam district this year.The figure stood at 88 in 2016, 66 in 2015, 53 in 2014, 16 in 2013, 21 in 2012 and 23 in 2011.
“The situation in Kashmir after Burhan Wani’s killing is one of the factors of over 110 youth joining militant ranks this year. This is not worrisome as we have killed over 200 militants this year,” a police official said.
“The more militants are killed, the more over ground workers of militants have to become militants to fill the gap.” He said security agencies were analysing why youth, especially the educated ones, were joining militancy, and remedial measures would be taken to prevent youth from taking to guns.