Rising Number of Youth Taking to Militancy: Saha

SRINAGAR: Increasing number of Kashmiri youth joining militancy is a matter of concern, a top army commander said on Wednesday while talking about the strategy of Pakistan-based groups to focus on recruiting locals after their “failure” to push in foreigners.

PTI quoting outgoing Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt. Gen. Subrata Saha saying that “several motives” are being exploited by recruiters, including religious radicalisation, discontent due to personal or academic failures, links with terrorists and over-ground workers and desire for recognition or status.

“Any youth joining terrorists’ ranks is a cause of concern,” he told PTI while mentioning that there has been an increase in the number of youth recruited in 2014-15 as compared to 2012-13.

Gen Saha, who is moving to Army Headquarters in Delhi for his next assignment, said “attempts of infiltration” from across the border had increased this year but “the attempts have resulted in their failure”.

Describing it as “a battle between their desperation and our determination”, he said there has been an increase in the intensity of attempts this year which is evident from 11 attempts in which 19 terrorist neutralised.

“Without getting into specifics, even other indicators suggest an increase in number awaiting infiltration,” he added.

He was asked if the infiltration level was nearly zero, how did four Lashker-e-Taiba militants, including Mohammed Naved Yakub who was caught alive during Udhampur attack, manage to sneak in from Gulmarg sector.

“This case is still being investigated and there have been repeated changes in his (Naved’s) statements. We will wait for the final inference,” he said. The top army officer also viewed with concern the repeated display of ISIS flags in the Kashmir valley.

“This is certainly a cause of concern, considering the intense propaganda being spread through Internet and social media, and the large numbers of youth getting attracted across the world,” he said.

While talking about local recruitment in terror groups, Gen. Saha said, “There is also a positive trend that parents of youth who go missing, report the fact immediately and seek help for their return.” He said there are a number of youth who have returned also.

The larger imperative is the need to provide adequate opportunities for the youth to keep them in a positive frame of mind, the officer said, adding, “We in the army are making our contribution to this by adopting 4E programme (Education, Engagement, Empowerment and Employment) for the youth.”

On cross-border influx, he said with the robustness of the counter infiltration grid, there has been a definite decline in the infiltration. “There is certainly a possibility that the nexus is trying to make up the number through local recruitment,” he added.

Gen. Saha complimented his men and central intelligence agencies for bringing down infiltration this year. “The counter infiltration grid has achieved near perfection this year. The credit for this must first go to the soldiers on the ground for their alertness and commitment.”

“Equally the excellent cooperation amongst all agencies in achieving real time intelligence sharing has been very helpful,” he said.

He hinted that “some deft changes” have been made to the surveillance grid and dispositions.

“The timely addition of tiers in the troops deployment to exploit the ridge lines for example, has yielded very positive results. This trend should continue,” he said.

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