57 youth picked up gun this year, 23 of them killed; 16 returned to mainstream
Around 270 militants are active in Kashmir, however, the numbers were declining and the situation has witnessed positive increase in the valley, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said on Saturday.
This is despite the relentless anti-militancy operations during which nearly 125 local as well and foreign militants were killed in past six months in the valley.
“About 270 militants are active in Kashmir. This year so far, 57 youth went missing from their homes and later joined militancy). Of them 23 were killed in encounters while 16 others returned to mainstream,” Dilbag told Rising Kashmir in an interview.
The state police chief said the number of active militants was less this year compared to few years ago when 300 militants were active in Kashmir.
He said the trend of self-radicalisation among youth towards ISIS ideology has come down but had not ended.
“We pray that youth think wisely and don’t walk towards this path of destruction. Such decisions by youth are immature,” he said.
The DGP said the number of militants was on decline in the valley due to less-infiltration and low local recruitment.
The positivity in the situation, he said, has increased in the valley as the collateral damage during anti-militancy operations has been all time low this year and police as well as public has contributed to it.
“The civilian killings have come down 80 percent,” he said.
Since the beginning of AmarnathYatra on July 1, the anti-militancy operations in the Valley have been apparently halted to facilitate the smooth and peaceful yatra which is conducted via twin routes—Pahalgam in volatile south Kashmir and Baltal-Sonmarg in relatively peaceful Ganderbal.
Barring couple of anti-militancy operations -- one in south Kashmir’s Shopain district and another in Sopore area of north Kashmirin which two militants were killed -- hardly any major anti-militancy operation has taken place in Valley amid ongoingAmarnathyatra.
A number of militant attacks were reported in south Kashmir, the hotbed of militancy.
On July 8, militants fired at a civilian in Chandhara area of Awantipoora, three persons were in injured in two separate blasts at Zasoo area of Pulwama on July 12 and at Adigam, Kulgam on July 14. Besides, a cop Riyaz Ahmad was shot dead by militants at Hiller area of Anantnag on July 14 and a PDP leader’s personal security officer was shot dead in Bijbehara area of Anantnag on July 19.
DGP said forces were laying more attention towards Amarnathyatra but maintained that the intelligence network to track down militants has not undermined.
“The attention is towards Amanathyatra but the focus is on preventive measure. Suppose, if forces launched operations at ten places in a day (before the AmarnathYatra), today they launch operations at three places. So obviously the success rate of anti-militancy operations will remain low,” he said.
On presence of higher number of Over Ground Workers (OGWs) of militants and their chances of joining militant ranks in the valley, Singh said the OGWs were becoming militants once the element of radicalisation increase and coupled with many other things among them.
“But, we still want them to return to mainstream. We are bringing youth back from militancy,” Singh said adding once OGWs joining of militancy comes into police knowledge, he should come back.
“We are not against them. Our job is not to harass an OGW. If anyone had become an OGW, he should take himself out of the line,” he said.
In 2018, State Crime Record Bureau (SCRB) recorded that base of Over Ground Workers (OGWs) of militants was nearly ten times higher than the active militants in Jammu and Kashmir. There were 2430 OGWs and 257 militants active in the conflict-ridden state in 2018.
The state police chief said there was a spill over affect of militants in vulnerable areas Chenab valley and this spill over affect never vanished from Kishtwar district—a district in Chennab valley.
“Because, since very long two militants were active in Kishtwar. Had they not been active, the number of militants wouldn’t have become seven today,” he said.
Earlier, police revived its Special Operations Group (SOG) in Kishtwarto track down the militants and OGWs operating in hills of the district.
The revival of SOG followed a brief gunfight between police and militants in Appan near Nowapachi area in Kishtwaron May 31. Two SPOs were injured in the gunfight.