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Educated youth take to militancy in the valley

Some believe that the youth resort to militancy after experiencing police torture.

Abhinandan Mishra & Noor-ul-Qamrain  NEW DELHI / Srinagar | 29th Jun 2013

ducated local youth taking to militancy is the new nightmare for the security forces operating in the Kashmir valley, as they are likely to cause more damage than a foreign terrorist. "A local man knows the area. Since he is born in the valley, it is difficult to identify him when compared to a terrorist who is from Pakistan," said an Army official who was earlier engaged in anti-terror operations in the valley.

The names on this list of educated youth-turned-terrorists include the likes of Saifullah Ahangar, 20, who had completed his diploma in civil engineering and was killed in an encounter with the Rashtriya Rifles on 25 May; Masiullah Khan, a mechanical engineer, who was killed in 2011 in an encounter in south Kashmir; Sajad Yousuf, who had a post graduate degree in Islamic Studies, joined Hizbul Mujahideen, before being shot dead by the security forces; similarly Omar Ahsan, who was killed in Sopore in December 2012, had secured admission in a post-graduate course in Physics when he became a militant; Hilal Ahmad Rather, a 28-year-old Lashkar operative who was killed recently was a scholar of Islamic law and was a student of Deoband seminary at Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Many of them come out of police interrogation cells filled with anger and venom. The police kept most of them under surveillance.

This phenomenon has been acknowledged by the Ministry of Home Affairs. "We are aware of this development. We are doing our best to counter this by generating employment opportunities in the valley. Many local youths have been recruited in the state police and more employment opportunities are being created as part of soft measures to tackle terrorism in the valley. We are also engaging the parents of those youths who have joined militancy recently so that they can persuade their sons to rejoin the mainstream," said an MHA official.

There is a view in the valley that these educated youth joined militancy after their brutal torture by the police in the summer unrest of 2010. Most of them came out of police interrogation cells filled with anger and venom. The Special Operation Group (SOG) of the Jammu & Kashmir police kept most of them under surveillance. Police sources say that they were being watched while they were looking for militant groups to join. When a senior police officer was asked by this newspaper from where the local militants were getting guns and training he said that they were being trained locally. He did not reply from where they were getting the guns.

The MHA official said that the recent spurt in violence J&K does not indicate that terrorism, which has been on the decline, is returning. "No, we cannot say that the security forces are on the back-foot or terrorism is rising in the valley. Militant strikes just before the arrival of a VIP are an old tactic to get some limelight. In 1998, when the then Prime Minister I.K. Gujral was to visit the state the terrorists carried out an attack and killed 23 people. The state has by far been peaceful and last year the tourists' arrival to the state was phenomenal. This year too we are expecting the same."

Official records suggest that infiltration across the border has declined in the last three years. In 2010, there were 489 attempts by terrorists to infiltrate into India through LoC, it decreased to 247 in 2011. The figure for 2012 was 264.

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