Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has asked security agencies to reach out to the families of local Kashmiri militants in an attempt to influence them to give up arms and return to the mainstream.
Chairing a Unified Command meet — held to review the security situation in the Valley — on Tuesday, the chief minister also asked forces to ensure that the families of Kashmiri militants were not harassed, sources said.
Intelligence sources privy to the details of the meeting told Hindustan Times that all security agencies, especially the state police, were directed to take families of local militants in “confidence” — a step which the chief minister believes could help in the mainstreaming of local militants.
According to a senior security official, at present 20 local militants were operating in north Kashmir alone. In the southern part of the Valley, the number of locals who joined militant ranks in 2016-17 increased to the extent that they formed the majority of over 100 militants operating in the region.
Official sources said the option of offering incentives to local militants as well as their families was also discussed during the meet, which was attended by senior bureaucrats, officials of army, intelligence, police and other security agencies.
“The CM was clear on the fact that the families of local recruits should be taken into confidence. The families can encourage their wards to return to the mainstream and if incentives are something which can speed up the process, the state government is willing to offer it as well,” said a senior intelligence official who attended the meet.
Clarifying security personnel’s stand, an official said the forces followed a “general policy” of not harassing the families of militants, adding that amid a worsening security situation in the Valley, it was even more important for forces to maintain their standards.
The Valley has been rocked by violent protests following civilian killings since the Srinagar by-elections, which saw one of the worst turnouts in the state’s history.
The situation took a turn for the worse when a video showing a Kashmiri youth being used as a “human shield” by the armed forces surfaced on social media earlier in April.
The Valley also witnessed demonstrations led by students, including women, who were protesting against an alleged security clampdown on students in south Kashmir.
During the meeting, the officials also discussed the “misuse of social media by anti-national elements” and argued that it was being used “ to spread dissatisfaction against administration and security forces”.
A direct offshoot of the discussion could be the state government’s decision to suspend social media sites and mobile applications, including Facebook,Twitter and Whatsapp, from Wednesday. The recent attack on a nomad family in the Reasi district was also discussed during the meeting and the chief minister, according to officials, directed police to bring the perpetrators to justice.