Militant recruitment in Kashmir ‘very high’, Al Badr active again as Pakistan revives outfit

According to official statistics, 131 Kashmiri youngsters have joined militant groups this year as against 117 last year. Local recruitment figures stood at 214 in 2018 and 128 in 2017.

Srinagar: In a big concern for security establishments, the local militant recruitment in Kashmir has officially reached 131 since the beginning of this year, and it could reach as high as 180 by December-end according to internal assessment of security forces, ThePrint has learnt.

Security agencies also believe the numbers could go up further but lack of weapons is what is preventing recruitment by the militant groups.

It has also come to light that the long defunct militant group Al Badr, created in 1999 by Pakistan, has been revived again with the group getting 17 fresh recruits into its ranks in July and August. It had zero recruits for a long time now.

Security agencies are still trying to figure out why Al Badr has been activated even when Pakistan has floated militant fronts such as The Resistance Front and People’s Anti Fascist Front to claim attacks by militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

“The idea behind the two new organisations is to give an indigenous spin to the militant activities in Kashmir and to absolve Pakistan, which has been under heat due to the FATF sword hanging over its head,” a source in the defence and security establishment said.

The source added that the effort was to show that militancy in J&K is actually a fight against the government in New Delhi rather than a religion-backed fight.

These developments come even as the security forces eliminated nearly 180 militants in operations since the beginning of this year, including 169 in the hinterland, as of last weekend.

88 active militants in North Kashmir, 123 in south 

According to official statistics, 131 Kashmiri youngsters have joined the militant group this year as against 117 last year. The local recruitment figures in 2018 and 2017 were 214 and 128, respectively.

Of the 89 locals who had joined militant groups by August-end, 57 were eliminated by the security forces in encounters where efforts were made to first make them surrender by bringing in family members to appeal to the youngsters, sources said.

In north Kashmir, sources in the defence and security establishment said, there are 88 active militants in all and 66 of them are from Pakistan.

However, in south Kashmir, there are at least 123 active militants. According to the sources, only 25 of them are Pakistanis militants while the rest are all locals.

“The number of recruitment is very high. This is something that has been repeatedly flagged,” said a source, with another adding that it is estimated that the figure could actually reach 180 by the end of this year.

According to a study conducted by the Army on the profile of militant recruitment in 2018, 30 per cent of the recruits were in the age group of 16-20 years while 60 per cent were in the age group of 21-25 years. Only 10 per cent of the recruits were in the age group of 26-30 years.

In terms of education, the study showed that 20 per cent of the recruits were illiterate while 45 per cent had higher secondary schooling and 35 per cent were Matriculate.

The study also looked at the financial background and showed that 60 per cent of the militants came from the middle class while 35 per cent came from the lower middle class. Only 5 per cent of the militants came from well-to-do families.

Militants face weapons shortage

Sources said the militants are facing a shortage of weapons. “It is estimated that they are waiting for weapons and ammunition to recruit more,” said a source.

In many of the recent encounters, only pistols were recovered from the dead militants, indicating that the earlier commonly used weapon, AK 47s, are short in supply.

The fact that there are shortages of weapons is also borne out through the recovery list maintained by the security forces.

Since January this year, the security forces have recovered 172 pistols as against 142 AK series of assault rifles besides 5 American M4 and 2 M16 rifles along with 17 other weapons snatched from security forces in the past.

“There is great dearth of weapons and ammunition for the militants and hence Pakistan is trying to push in weapons into the Valley not just from the LoC side but also through the International Border on Jammu, Punjab and even Rajasthan side. Pakistan is also trying to drop weapons through drones,” a source said.

With inputs from ThePrint

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Kashmir Today staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)