SRINAGAR There are 243 militants operating in the Kashmir valley where tens of thousands of armed forces personnel backed by police and paramilitary forces are engaged in "Operation All Out"for last almost one year.
However despite rising militant killings there ranks continue to swell.
In less than six months, 75 young men, including some highly educated, have picked up arms in Kashmir, thereby raising concerns in security circles.
"As many as 243 militants are operating in Kashmir Valley and of these, 59 militants are foreigners", a senior Police officer said quoting official statistics.
Besides, 15 militants are operating in Jammu region, it said, adding a total of 188 locals and 70 foreign militants are operating in the entire Jammu and Kashmir.
Operations against militants in J&K would be intensified in the days to come as extremist activities increased during Ramzan when counter-militancy operations were stopped, state police chief S P Vaid said last Tuesday.
"Operations will continue. Only thing was in between, during this (ceasefire) period, the operations were stopped. They were going on earlier also, but we will intensify these operations in the days to come. And it would be, I think, much easier to work," he said here when asked if Governor's rule would make any difference to the security apparatus of the state in counter-militancy operations.
Vaid said the militant activities increased during the period of Ramzan ceasefire.
As many as 75 Kashmiri youths joined militancy in the Kashmir Valley in over 5 month period this year, the senior security officer said.
The officer said a high number of 127 young men joined militancy in 2017, a record since 2010.
The officer claimed 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 youth 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.
There is a trend of highly educated men joining militancy in Kashmir now.
In January this year, Mannan Bashir Wani, who was pursuing Ph.D in Earth Sciences from Aligarh Muslim University marked his presence in the roll calls for the last time before heading home to Tekipora village in Lolab of Kupwara district in north Kashmir.
Three days after his departure on January 2, a young man with fair complexion and with a black beard holding AK-47 in his hands went viral on social networking websites in Kashmir.
The young man was 25-year-old Manan who had joined the ranks of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
The youth joining militancy has gone up after the killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.
Muhammad Rafi Bhat, a young assistant professor of Kashmir University, killed during encounter within two days of having joined militant ranks, has yet again brought focus on the new-age militancy in the restive region.
Rafi was among five militants, including wanted Hizbul Mujahideen commander Saddam Padder, killed by government forces in Shopian district on May 6.
Five civilians were also killed in the ensuing clashes in the area. The five were among thousands of civilians who were trying to break military cordon to allow trapped militants escape.
Others includes the 26 year old Junaid Ashraf Sehrai, an MBA degree holder from Kashmir university, and son of Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, a top Hurriyat Conference leader.
In November 2017, Majid Khan, a footballer who had passed his 12th with distinction took up arms only to return back home after an appeal by his parents.
Others include Omar Ahsan, 22, who was a post-graduate student in Physics and Lashkar-e-Taiba militants Muzamil Amin and Hilal Ahmad Rather, both of whom were qualified in Islamic teachings.
In February 2015, Ashiq Hussain Dar, who was killed in an encounter in Heff Shermal, had MA (English) and BEd degrees to his credit besides a government job.
According to officials, every funeral of a local militant spawns at least two additions to the ranks of militant groups.
As per a report of Criminal Investigation department (CID), an Intelligence wing of J&K Police, 32 per cent of youths who joined militancy had passed Class X and 19 per cent were undergraduates or graduates.
While post-graduates constitute 7 per cent, the remaining 7 per cent who joined militancy were without any education.
Over 65 per cent showed religious inclination before joining militancy while 10 per cent were academically inclined.
While 3 per cent were drug addicts and the rest 22 per cent were vagabonds, the report submitted by CID to MHA, said.
Asserting social media had an impact on them, the CID report said 25 per cent of youth had access to social media in 2010 and 2011 respectively which rose to 30 per cent by 2014 and and 70 per cent in 2015.
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.