At least 10 youths weaned away from militancy in North Kashmir, let off after counseling: MHA report

SRINAGAR, Aug 17 : The Jammu and Kashmir Police have not only traced 13 youths who joined militancy in North Kashmir, but also allowed 10 of them to go back home after counseling, reveals records available with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). This is in contrast to South Kashmir, where security forces have upped their ante against top militants, said officials.

The Indian Express is withholding the names of youths who were let off after counseling to safeguard their identities. There are nearly 88 active militants in North Kashmir, out of which 14 are believed to be locals while others are foreign militants. “Unlike South Kashmir, parents and guardians in North immediately alert local police the moment their children join terrorist organisations. This helps the cops to track them immediately before they are completely radicalised,” a senior official explained.

In his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi  also reached out to Kashmiris and said Kashmir needs hugs, neither abuses, nor bullets. Security agencies say that weaning away of a single youth from militancy is a big achievement in the valley. According to Jammu and Kashmir Police data, the 13 youths who were brought back were between June-August this year.

However, central intelligence agency officials say while militancy in South Kashmir is predominantly local, North is dominated by foreign militants from Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The militants in North Kashmir are well-trained and equipped as compared to their counterparts in South Kashmir. And only a small number of parents report about their children as they fear the police may harass the family, they added.

Besides those let off after counseling, as many as 45 youths have been arrested in North Kashmir till July 2017 with the maximum number from Baramulla (15), added officials. Out of those arrested, 22 youths left home to join Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), 21 others owed their allegiance to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) while two joined the ranks of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in the valley.

Among those arrested, 22 were over ground workers (OGW) mostly belonging to Lashkar and HM, while others were new recruits. One of them, Shahbaz Rasool Mir, was categorised as ‘A’ category militant. He was arrested by Jammu and Kashmir Police from Bandipora in July this year.

As per the data available with the Home Ministry, as many as 117 militants (in entire Kashmir) have been killed in encounters with security forces this year, which include six top militants namely LeT’s Abu Dujana, LeT commander Bashir Lashkari and Abu Haris and Burhan Wani’s successor Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), among others.

According to police, 38 militants from Lashkar, 37 from Hizbul and 42 unidentified militants were killed during the operations till July this year. Most of the encounters took place in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Shopian and Anantnag, apart from Bandipora and Kupwara in north Kashmir and Budgam in central Kashmir, officials added.