An adhoc police man posted with a legislator Ajaz Ahmad Mir has fled with seven AK-47 rifles and a pistol on Friday. The matter came to light when the personal security officer (PSO) of Mir informed the police station Rajbagh that the weapons of seven PSOs attached with the legislator were missing from his official residence at the nearby Jawahar Nagar. Though there have been such examples earlier too, this is first time that a large number of the weapons have been stolen in a single instance.
Earlier in 2015, a cop Naseer Ahmad Pandith guarding the house of former PDP minister Altaf Bukhari had decamped with two rifles and joined Hizbul Mujahideen. A year after, Pandith – who subsequently became a close associate of the slain Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Burhan Wani – was killed in an encounter with the security forces.
Similarly, during the five month long unrest in 2016, militants snatched around 64 weapons from the police personnel in parts of South Kashmir.
The growing incidents of weapons snatchings have become a source of deep worry for the security agencies. The snatched weapons invariably fall into the hands of the fresh recruits to the militancy. This year many more youth across Kashmir have gone missing and joined militancy. The police rationalizes the rising incidence of gun snatchings, as the result of the shortage of weapons with the militants. The new militant recruits are alleged to be told to get their own weapons and encouraged to attack the police men on guard duty, sometimes with help from regular militants.
But that is hardly the issue. The issue is that the militancy is only growing from strength to strength. And the shortage of weapons and ammunition is no dampener for the militants. This is a disturbing turn in the situation. And the new dimension to it is that the militancy has caught the fancy of the youth in North Kashmir too. And one reason that the things are in such a bad shape is that the response to it has so far been exclusively security-centric and geared to usher in peace by killing all militants. The past four years have shown this is unlikely to happen, nor has recruitment stopped. There’s another catch: even if local recruitment stops, the infiltration will ensure that a sufficient number of militants will always be there to carry on the jihad. So killings of militants and surrenders will hardly make any long term redeeming difference. Only resolution of the factors underlying the lingering turmoil will. But as things stand, New Delhi is nowhere near reviewing its approach to Kashmir. More so, in an election year. So, situation looks set to become even worse in the Valley. And yet another loot of weapons is a testament to this.
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