Local support for militants almost over in JK says Senior army officer

SRINAGAR: Recent “uncoordinated acts of violence” in North Kashmir are “signs of desperation” by militants which are not finding resonance among people who want to get out of the cycle of violence, a fact visible in the sharp dip this year in the recruitment of local youths in militant groups, a senior Army officer has said.

Lt Gen B S Raju, heading the Kashmir-based XV corps, feels the basic premise of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is “to create sensationalism that is backed by false separatist narratives and propaganda sponsored from Pakistan”.

These acts of militancy are “…not finding much favour amongst the awaam (public), these uncoordinated militant acts are a sign of desperation. There is no semblance of any space where militants or separatists are in control,” Gen Raju told PTI in an email interview.

“Overall, the people want a solution, they want to get out of this cycle of violence and that is the reason that the support for militancy has been all but wiped out,” he said.

Asked about the recent spurt of militant attacks in North Kashmir in which the army lost its Colonel and a Major and the CRPF lost its personnel, Gen Raju said these attacks in no way indicate increased presence of militants.

“In fact, to the contrary, the recruitment of local youth in the militant outfits has also reduced by nearly half from 2018 to 2019 and is even lesser in 2020,” he said, adding that the militant cadres “are in a self-preservation mode.”

While the army refused to divulge the number of local youths who joined militancy, Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbag Singh had earlier said that 218 local youths had joined militant outfits in 2018 but only 139 joined in 2019.

There is no official figure of the number of local youths having joined militant groups this year but sources in the intelligence agencies have indicated that around 35 local youths have disappeared in 2020 and joined militant groups.

However, Gen Raju says that more and more young men are participating in sports, skill development initiatives, job opportunities and education.

“The online registration for the upcoming recruitment rally has seen close to 10,000 youths registering, which is nearly double the numbers last year. Government has helped them build a better future for themselves and support their families and this fact is a testament to the change being ushered in Kashmir,” he said.

Gen Raju said one should not read much into increased number of militant acts in North Kashmir and said the dynamic nature of militancy and the ability to change locations or tactics as per the pressure of the forces is a common characteristic worldwide.

“Our counter infiltration and counter militancy grids have inherent flexibility to adapt themselves to these dynamic shifts,” he said.

He said the other factor worth taking note of was that Pakistan always wants to disrupt normalcy in the Kashmir valley through its actions.

“Pakistan’s persistence in infiltrating militants, proliferating false propaganda is intended to disturb peace and its actions in fomenting trouble was well anticipated,” he said.

The senior army officer said the spurt in militancy is not in North Kashmir but restricted to the border districts and that is primarily due to the large number of infiltration attempts and militants wanting to create a base there to receive infiltrators.

“We are prepared for any contingency, in coordination with all stakeholders like the army, JK police, CAPF, intelligence agencies and the civil administration,” Gen Raju said.[ Agencies]

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