ANANTNAG: A group of youth in army fatigues raided Doordarshan (Indian State TV) tower in Dooru village in South Kashmir on the intervening night of October 16-17 and disarmed five Indian Reserve Police men guarding it and disappeared. This is the latest gun snatching incident in South Kashmir the hub of three month long unrest.
The unrest which completed 100 days on Sunday was triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani-the poster boy of the present age militancy, on July 8. At least 95 persons protesting Wani's killing have died while around 15,000 have been injured. The unrest has also given a boost to militancy in Kashmir.
Earlier, when Wani was alive, militants used to look for boys for recruitment, as there were few willing, but following July 8, there are dozens in the line and this time militants are selective in new recruitment's, police sources said.
These sources say sizable numbers of youth are in a line lobbying and using their sources to join militancy. But it is being said that militants seem quite reserved as “they don’t want another Tariq Pandit in their ranks”.
Tariq Pandit was a close aide of Burhan Wani. Pandit was arrested in a controversial manner. Pandit’s catch later helped forces to expose several key hideouts of militants where a large cache of ammunition was also recovered.
“With Pandit’s case in mind, militants are not recruiting every willing person. There might be some passion (junoon) among teenagers to become militants, but militant commanders seem quite selective when it comes to new recruitments. During the three months of unrest, only a few number of youth have been recruited,” they added.
According to sources, around two dozen youth have disappeared in South Kashmir since July 8, but it is not clear if all of them have joined militant ranks. However, police is tightlipped over he development.
A top police officer said during the early days of the current uprising, over 100 youth were believed to have joined militant ranks, but off late the trend has decreased.
In Pulwama district, police records suggest disappearance of two youth, one among them, a former militant. However sources place the number at around six.
SP Kulgam Shridhar Patel said, “We have only three missing reports. But we aren’t sure if they have joined militancy,” he said.
In the police district of Awantipora which includes Tral also, the home town of Burhan Wani, three youth have joined militancy. “Three boys have joined militancy in Awantipora police district,” said a top police officer, adding, it is not clear which outfit they have joined.
He, however, said the two boys belong to the militant prone areas, but the third one hails from Pampore area—which has seen no militant recruitment in the recent past. This recruitment from Pampore has taken place only after Wani’s killing.
In Anantnag district, police said they don’t have any such records. “I am not in a position to tell you about the figures. We are still collecting the details,” said a police officer.
Wani’s killing on the evening of July 8 in a very brief encounter with government forces at a village in Anantnag district has not only fuelled unrest in Kashmir, but gave the militants all the breathing space they were looking for.
During this period of unrest, which is still continuing, militants have successfully reorganized their structure and made some strategic changes in their ranks. “Besides both Lashkare-Taiba and Hizb now operate together,” police sources said.
With prevailing unrest entering into its fourth month and shows visible signs of fatigue in other parts of Valley, but south Kashmir continues to paint radically a different picture.
If Delhi media reports are to be believed, there are some 50 foreign militants, who have successfully infiltrated and have set up their base in South Kashmir recently.
Sources however confirm that the movement of militants comprising both locals and Kashmiris from Pakistani controlled part has significantly increased in recent weeks.
“The LeT and Hizb now operate together. The militants have also reorganized and have been able to make some key changes in their ranks. The top commander Zakir Musa who replaced Burhan Wani, seems to have been given a task to focus more on new recruitments rather than focusing on operations,” police sources said.
The other worry for the security agencies has become the growing number of gun-snatching incidents, which have witnessed a significant increase during the unrest.
According to reports, 62 rifles have been snatched from police forces in South Kashmir alone since the unrest began. Out of these 25 rifles are still missing.
A senior police officer said that during snatching incidents, the militants are accompanied by the new recruits. “We believe that these weapons are mostly being provided to the new recruits,” he said.
On October 4 suspected militants snatched five weapons from security guards at a picket in Samnoo area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
The latest incident of weapon snatching took place in Dooru, Anannag on Monday (17 October) when militants snatched 5 rifles (3 SLR’s, 1 Carbine and 1 INSAS rifle) from Indian Reserve Police guarding a TV tower.
According to sources in Jammu and Kashmir Police, all those who have snatched weapons have ended up with militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, whose cadre largely comprises of local Kashmiri youth.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.