From years to months, career span of militants shrinking in Kashmir

The career span of terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir has shrunk considerably over the last few years due to a raft of factors including better coordination among security forces, a first-rate intelligence network, and poorly trained terrorists, according to army officers monitoring the situation in the state.

From three to four years a few years ago, the career span of terror recruits, many of them recruited by handlers as cannon fodder, has come down to a few months now, these people added on condition of anonymity. There has been a sharp fall from the time Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani was active to the killing of 13 terrorists in a single day on April 1, said a senior army officer who did not wish to be named.

Wani was active for around six years before he was gunned down in an encounter in July 2016, plunging the state deeper into conflict. Waseem Malla and Naseer Pandit, both Hizb commanders and contemporaries of Wani, ran the terror machine in south Kashmir for three to four years before they were killed in an encounter with security forces in April 2016.

Similarly, Hizb commander Saddam Hussain Paddar, considered the last of Wani’s boys, was killed by security forces in May almost four years after he joined the ranks of the terror outfit. Paddar was among the 10 militants who posed with then-HM commander Burhan Wani in a picture that went viral on social media and is said to have romanticised militancy in Kashmir.

A second army officer who asked not to be identified said many of the terrorists killed in recent months have only been active for months.

For instance, he said, terrorist Sameer Lone had joined the HM in February 2018, Ishfaq Malik in January 2018, Rayees Ah Thokar in June 2017 and Aediman Fayaz Malik in November 2017.

Kashmir university sociology professor Mohammad Rafi was killed on Sunday, within 36 hours of joining the HM ranks, the officer added.

“The security forces have really galvanized their intelligence network. Flow of intelligence comes from people. If we extrapolate, the lifespan of terrorists is getting shorter as people are fed up with them,” said former northern army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd).

Jaswal also stressed that homegrown terrorists were no match for the army. “The army has tremendous experience in the state. Several units are doing their third stint in J&K. That’s why we are decimating them faster,” he said.

Jaswal added that earlier the terrorists went to Pakistan for training, but the current crop was poorly trained and all they had was “on-the-job training” exposure.