Former Jammu and Kashmir police chief Kuldeep Khoda has warned of a “cult” being born in the state with more educated youths getting enthused to join terrorists and picking up the gun becoming an “attractive and glamorous” option.
The “dimensions and dynamics” of terrorism are changing, Khoda, the longest and amongst the most successful police chiefs of the state, has said in a blog.
Examining the reasons for increasing number of youths joining militancy, he said, “When political grid is inactive, even if security grid gets results, common man on many occasions becomes a victim of favoritism and nepotism. Frustration of common man with the system he is in, has to find an exit route.”
In other states, he added, where system failures may be more acute, the exit route for frustration takes the form of dharnas, strikes, arson and the like.
“But in the Valley, with militancy now firmly entrenched for the last three decades, taking up the gun is not only a readily available option but an attractive and glamorous one as well,” said Khoda, who served as chief vigilance commissioner of the state before retiring last year.
The glamorisation of terrorists has attracted many well educated boys into its ranks, he said.
“Earlier unheard but now a reality is that large number of educated youth are getting enthused to be part of the ‘movement’ and to spearhead it. A local Ph.D scholar studying in Aligarh Muslim University, a faculty member from Kashmir University who subsequently got killed in an operation, an MBA son of a prominent separatist, are some of the recently recruited educated youth.”
This, he said, is changing the dimensions and dynamics of terrorism.
“A cult has been born. Whether it will grow to assume a menacing role will largely depend on our response,” he said.
He said the conflict zone was usually associated with conflict of interests between those managing the security grid and political grid.
After the launch of Operation ‘All Out’, some important terrorist commanders got neutralized with 213 terrorists killed in 2017, he said. This achievement of the police and security forces cannot be underestimated and most of the intelligence leading to successful and surgical operations flows from the police, Khoda added.
“But the success of operations gets diluted when the neutralized number of militants gets replaced by infiltration and fresh recruitment. Last year witnessed local militant recruitment at 126, the highest during the last more than twelve years. This year, during first four months with around 50 local youth getting into militant cadres, last year’s number is likely to get surpassed,” he warned.
Khoda, who served as police chief from 2007 to 2012, said the number of terror incidents plummeted from 1,438 in 2006 to 124 in 2012. The number of casualties of security forces came down to 15 (the lowest during 28 years of militancy) from 182 during the same period.
This figure rose to 47 in 2014 and to 80 in 2017, he said.
“Trend in terrorists killed depicts similar pattern, 591 in 2006, 72 in 2012, 110 in 2014 and 213 in 2017. If all the three strong parameters of security situation viz number of terrorists incidents, security forces casualties and terrorists killed are showing an upward trend, it does not require rocket science to understand which way we are going and how our tactics on dealing Kashmir situation is delivering,” he said.
Inputs about infiltration and border firing are not encouraging either, Khoda said. But more worrying was the local recruitment in terrorist cadres, he said.
“Unrestricted use of social media…Every militant’s funeral draws thousands to the venue. It is not uncommon to see gun wielding militants appearing at the scene and playing on the minds of youth.
“The event and its management more than makes up for the losses in terrorist cadre by way of fresh recruitment of a few more than lost. The calibrated release of videos on social media projecting terrorists as messiahs and brave hearts of the community serves as a catalyst in attracting youngsters to join the jihad’,” he warned.