Over 100 rebels, 59 security personnel killed, 50 new youth took guns in 2019

There has been a steady rise in the number of youths taking up arms in the valley since 2014 onwards as compared to 2010-2013, according to the data presented in Parliament.

Over 100 rebels, including 23 foreigners, have been killed in Kashmir in the first five months of 2019, but what is keeping the security establishment worried is the large number of new recruits, officials said on Sunday.

According to them, 50 youngsters have joined various terror outfits since March and the security establishment needs to find a better way to cut off the supply chain and can consider educating families on radicalisation of the youth.

The officials said 101 rebels — 23 foreigners and 78 local rebels — were killed in 2019 till May 31. They include top commanders such as Zakir Musa, the chief of so-called Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda. However, there is a sudden surge of rebels from Hizbul Mujahideen joining Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, especially after the elimination of Musa on May 23, they said.

The officials, many of whom are engaged in either fighting militancy on the ground or formulating strategy, believe there is a need for having a relook at the policy.

Among the terrorists killed, Shopian accounted for a maximum of 25, including 16 local rebels. Pulwama was second with the killings of 15 rebels, followed by Awantipora with 14 and Kulgam with 12.

However, all these highly-volatile areas in south Kashmir continue to contribute more youths to various rebel groups. The officials said infiltration was also picking up and some of the terrorists had managed to sneak in from Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu region as well as from the LoC in Kashmir Valley. This created a more alarming situation for the security forces which were readying themselves for the two-month-long Amarnath Yatra beginning this month-end.

There has been a steady rise in the number of youths taking up arms in the valley since 2014 onwards as compared to 2010-2013 when the figures stood at 54, 23, 21 and 6 respectively. In 2014, the number shot up to 53 and in 2015, it reached 66 before touching the highest mark of 88 in 2016, data presented in Parliament earlier showed.

After the February 14 terror strike in Pulwama, the officials feel, encounters between terrorists and security forces have turned into spectacles with protests and stone pelting by locals at sites, followed by large gatherings at funerals. The entire phenomenon has the potential to create an emotionally charged environment ideal for recruiting fresh cadres, they added.