‘Local recruitment, south Kashmir headache for troops’

Srinagar: Failure to curb infiltration from across the Line of Control and putting a check on local recruitment of youth in militant groups remain a constant source of worry for security agencies in militancy-hit Jammu Kashmir, officials said Sunday.
Analysing the trends of 2018, it has been seen that infiltration figures continue to remain unchanged as around 140 militants successfully sneaked into the Kashmir valley, majority of whom are believed to be of Jaish-e-Muhammad group, they said.
Although around 110 militants were killed during infiltration, the successful number of crossovers continues to worry the security agencies.
During recent meetings of Army and BSF officials, it has been brought to the notice that the counter infiltration grid needs to be further strengthened as militants may try and sneak in during the peak winters as well.
“It is not only the Line of Control, which stretches from Poonch in Jammu to Kupwara in Kashmir, but also international border, which has been exploited by the militant groups,” said a senior security official on condition of anonymity.
The Army and the BSF have been maintaining that they have been able to substantially curb infiltration, but their assertions were negated by the arrest of some of the militants during 2018 who spoke about bringing in militant groups successfully, the official said.
According to the officials in the know of the security situation in the State, around 130 foreign militants were still active in the Kashmir valley, who were mainly tasked to impart training to local youth, who were lured into the militant ranks and files.
Besides infiltration, inability to check flow of local youth to the militancy fold continues to worry the security agencies.
While local recruitment crossed the 100 mark from four districts of south Kashmir, a careful analysis of south Kashmir shows that 104 local militants from this area had been killed during the last year, showing that the area was dominated with more numbers of local militants.
The year gone by saw the maximum number of local militants killed in the region which accounted for over 250 militant killings in last five years.
Considered a highly politically-sensitive area of the Valley, south Kashmir has virtually turned into a breeding ground for militants with many youth joining their rank and file or becoming their sympathisers.
The area has seen a better intelligence network of militants, assistance of people to local militants, heavy turnout at the funerals of militants and stone-pelting at the government forces even during gunfights.
Comprising four districts – Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian – south Kashmir has been on the boil ever since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy Burhan Wani in July 2016.
The intelligence network of the militant groups, which had ended in mid-1990s, is understood to have revived again and the militants come to know about the advancement of the government forces, giving them an advantage to flee the area, the officials said. PTI