‘Catch them alive and understand their grievances’: Security forces new mantra in Kashmir

In a departure from conventional approach, security forces battling militancy in Jammu and Kashmir have shifted focus on “catching them alive” and motivating them to return to their families. “Our effort is to catch them alive and understand their grievances. After all, a 15 or 16-year-old boy can’t be brainwashed to the extent that he would like to be killed in a gunfight. There has to be a counter-narrative,” a senior official engaged in counter-insurgency operations was quoted as saying by PTI.
As per officials, the strategy of police and security agencies is to sever the “umbilical cord” by wrecking the overground worker network, which is instrumental in radicalising youth and pushing them to jihad.
Emphasising the need to eliminate hardcore terrorists like Saddam Paddar, Esa Fazl and Sameer Tiger, officials said these terrorists were the brains behind the fresh influx of cadres for Pakistan-based militant groups Lashker-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizbul Mujahideen.
The move also assumes significance, especially in the light of the Centre asking security forces not to launch operations during Ramzan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also visited the militancy-hit state last week and urged the ‘misguided youngsters’ to shun the violent means and begin to be a part of the national mainstream. He remarked that every stone picked up by the youth in Kashmir drives the state towards instability.
Although the operations based on specific intelligence inputs will continue, the priority will be to catch newly-recruited militants alive, officials said. “We have got indication from our field intelligence that many desire to return. Some parents have also approached us and we have no hesitation in helping them resume their normal life and education at the earliest,” a senior police official said.
Security forces have eliminated over 70 terrorists in the last seven months and officials believe that the Ramadan ceasefire may provide the much-needed window to convince parents to woo their wards back to textbooks.
“In the last seven months, four new recruits have been arrested while one returned,” said Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Swayam Prakash Pani, adding that the aim is to create a conducive atmosphere so that people can get over the cycle of violence. “My director general of police (S P Vaid) has also appealed to misguided youths and so I am asking them to return to their families,” Pani said.