Weapon Snatching ‘Test’: The Form of New Militancy?

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SRINAGAR: Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Zakir Rashid Bhat, who replaced slain militant commander, Burhan Wani, has in a video statement urged potential recruits to snatch weapons from police and paramilitary forces and then join militant ranks. “Many of our brothers have taken the path of ‘jihad’ and joined our ranks by snatching weapons. All those brothers who want to join us, they should snatch weapons. We would welcome them with open arms,” says Bhat, in the video.

The Army, in a statement issued by it, has called weapon snatching an issue of concern. There‘s a couple of inferences that can be drawn from the weapon snatching diktak issued by Bhat. One is that weapons snatched can be used to replenish the armoury of militants but this might be a facile conclusion. Guns need ammunition and there can be a mismatch between ammo employed my militants and the police, army or paramilitary forces. 

A more plausible explanation (albeit speculative) is that militants could be using the weapon snatching as a test for potential recruits. Snatching weapons requires determination, resolve and other taxing stuff and a bit of dare devilry. In this schemata, only those would snatch weapons who are committed to join the ranks of militants. So it is a form of screening and weeding out recruits.

What, the question is, does this mean from a larger perspective?

We may peep back into time and take a brief tour of the nineties when wide and deep insurgency took hold in Kashmir. Anyone could join militant ranks and thousands actually did. With wide and deep militancy, different motives animated people in joining militant ranks under the conceptual rubric and slogan of freedom.

Young people who became militants could be seen slouching on their Kalashnikovs in mohalla corners, and every one knew who militants were in their localities. Quantity became the buzzword for militant outfits. And with the passage of time, as the state reconfigured its counter insurgency approach and consolidated its gains, it became easier for the state to infiltrate militant outfits and even create a counter insurgent outfit of its own. 

It is this scenario that the Gen next of Kashmiri militants may be aiming to pre-empt among other things. Other reasons could pertain to attracting “quality” and determined recruits whose ideological fervour and zeal would match that of militants. This comes at a time when , post Burhan Wani’s killing and other structural reasons, there is possibility of revival of militancy in Kashmir. Added up, the next Gen of Kashmir militants will be more determined, zealous and more devoted to their cause.

 From a broader and larger perspective, the possible or potential revival of militancy in Kashmir means that Kashmir may have come full circle again. The reasons for this are obvious: an apathetic politics that chooses to focus on form than on substance and glosses over the fact that there is a conflict in and over Kashmir. It is, as KO has been repeatedly insisting, to the resolution of the conflict in and Kashmir in a way that redounds to the benefit of all stakeholders that powers that be should devote themselves to. Facile, superficial approaches can only mean and entail a scenario and condition that leads Kashmir once again into deep and wide conflict. Prudence dictates instituting the conflict resolution paradigm that KO has been rooting for all along. Let the process begin now!

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