NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: While incidents of stone pelting have reduced during the period of Ramzan ceasefire, recruitment of local youths by militant groups and incidents of grenade lobbying have risen alarmingly.
According to the latest data compiled by the centre, as many as 23 youths have been recruited by militant groups during the first 19 days of the ceasefire.
The data, accessed by the New Indian Express, also shows that of total number of grenade lobbying incidents reported in the month of May, more than 80 percent of such incidents took place during the ceasefire period alone.
Till April this year, on an average, 31 local youths were recruited by militant groups every month and the total number of recruitments made by the end of April was 125. In May, the total number of recruitment made by militant groups rose to 55. During the first 19 days of Ramzan ceasefire alone, 23 local youths were roped into militancy.
Sources said most of the recruitments have been made from highly-volatile Shopian and Pulwama districts in South Kashmir ccording tistics of the ceasefire period from May 17-June 4, a total of 18 incidents of grenade lobbying, three encounters, three instances of weapon snatching, two cases of bank looting, two incidents of IED blasts and five firing incidents have occurred during the ceasefire period.
Security officials, however, said that the rise in recruitment of youths by militant groups cannot be directly linked to the ceasefire but it was a matter of concern.
A senior security official, who did not wish to be named, said that recruitments made in May last year were also quite high. However, he admitted that there was certainly a sharp increase in incidents of grenade lobbying.
The official added that the militants of Kashmir based Hizbul Mujahideen had largely respected the ceasefire and the grenade and IED attacks were mostly being carried out by terrorists of Pakistani groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba.
About 50 persons were injured es of grenade attacks by militants in Kashmir in last week. Most of the grenade attacks were claimed by Azhar Masood's Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The security officials said the ceasefire has helped improve the ground situation in the valley. Regarding drastic decline in incidents of stone pelting since announcement of Ramzan ceasefire on May 16, security officials said that stone pelting would normally take place when forces carried out anti-militancy operations but since operations have been suspended during Ramzan, such incidents have come down.
"Recruitment is a matter of concern but there has been a positive impact of Ramzan ceasefire. It has eased the atmosphere in Kashmir. Whenever security forces used to launch combing operations, people of the area used to come out on roads and clash with security personnel to pave way for militants to escape. In this process, many civilians lost their lives. Now when there are no active anti-militancy operations, the protests and stone pelting has automatically come down," a senior security official said.
The encounters between militants and security forces, which used to be order of the day before Ramadan ceasefire, have now come to near zero level, he added.