Press Trust of india

Police to intensify ‘outreach programme’ to bring new militant recruits back

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Srinagar, Jun 24:  Concerned over an unusual rise in the number of people joining the ranks of militants, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has decided to intensify its “outreach programme” to persuade them through their families to lay down weapons and join the “mainstream”.

“The police are reaching out to the families of the newly recruited militants and asking them to appeal to their wards to return home after shunning guns,” Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police S P Vaid said.

“The outreach programme will continue to bring the misguided youths back home and mainstream them,” he said, adding that “it has resulted in some success and several militants have shunned militancy and returned to their homes.”

A police officer said that over 80 people, some of them with postgraduate degrees, have joined the ranks of militants in Kashmir Valley this year.

There is a trend now of highly-educated men joining militancy in Kashmir.

The youths joining militancy has picked up after the killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with government forces on July 08, 2016.

In 2017, 127 young men joined militancy, a record since 2010.

The police officer claimed that 88 Kashmiri youths joined militancy in 2016. Since 2014, there has been a constant rise in the number of people joining militancy. As many as 66 youths joined militancy in Kashmir in 2015 and 53 in 2014, according to data compiled by security agencies.

In 2010, 54 youths joined militancy and in 2011, the number came down to 23. It further dipped to 21 in 2012 and 16 in 2013, it said.

According to government forces officials, every funeral of a local militant spawns at least two additions to the ranks of militant groups.

“The Pulwama-Shopian-Kulgam region has become a hotbed of homegrown militants,” the officials said.

Security officials say Pulwama, which has of-late emerged as the militancy epicentre, is strategically important as it is the central point to connect Srinagar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Budgam districts of central Kashmir.

“The areas have seen the highest number of encounters and attacks,” the officer added.

The topography of Pulwama, with its vast orchards and fields ringed by dense forests, also provide a perfect shelter and operating cover to militants.

Pulwama was home to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, who was killed in an encounter with government forces in July last year. It was also the base of slain Abu Dujana, commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in the Kashmir Valley, Abu Musa and dozens of other militants.

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