Kashmir youth joining militants: Army report

  • Zia Haq, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 21, 2014 10:01 IST

The armed insurgency in Kashmir is gradually changing course to thrive on more homegrown militants, rather than foreign fighters, with social media as a rampant and virtually unchecked tool, an internal assessment of the army has said.

The 14-page analysis -- which HT has viewed -- also raises concerns that glaring policy failures now threaten to undo precious gains made against terror outfits in Kashmir.

The shift towards “local recruits” and the Hizbul Mujahideen — which has “local affinity” unlike the Lashkar-e-Taiba — helps cut costs and takes focus away from the “involvement of Pakistan”, which is under increasing scrutiny of the West, the document notes.

“Thus, there has been a radical change in the nature of insurgency, from a phenomenon supported by external forces to a primarily domestic-driven movement,” the report states.

HT could not independently ascertain the claims made in the document, which appears to present an academic overview for internal discussions by military higher-ups.

The document notes that a poorly managed rehabilitation policy to help integrate those who gave up militancy has pushed many of them back into insurgency.

It even identifies a few illustrative cases, such as that of Shakil Ahmed Wani of Badgaum, who carried out a daring strike at Pakharpura Shrine on June 16 this year.

Describing his background, the document states Shakil had three postgraduate degrees from various universities.

The state’s 2004 rehabilitation policy — Rs 1.5 lakh in fixed deposits and Rs 2,000 as monthly stipend — is “nonexistent”, the report says.

Attitudes towards surrendered militants and harassment of ordinary Kashmiris have also hurt counter-insurgency efforts.

“It has come to notice that a few youths had taken up arms against security forces in J&K because of inhuman treatment meted out by the Jammu and Kashmir Police and security forces to them/close relatives/family members,” the document notes.

Former militants or their families are repeatedly summoned and harassed, “aggravating” their “frail economic and mental status”. Moreover, court cases of human rights violations are increasing, it said.

The report calls for promoting the Hanafi sect of Islam, whose standard bearer is the influential Islamic seminary Darul Uloom in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh, as a response to the growing influence of the Ahle Hadith sect. “Moderate Hanafia maulvis need to be encouraged to voice their views…in all districts of the Kashmir Valley.”

Hanafi represents one of the four schools of Sunni Islamic thought and is popular throughout the subcontinent.

Ahle Hadith, which began as a 19th century Sunni reformist movement, is now viewed by western analysts as more conservative and aligned with Salafits, an Islamic movement in West Asia.

Indoctrination has become easy and convenient through social media, the analysis states, calling for a new strategy to deal with it.

Use of tools such as Facebook, Youtube and the messaging app WhatsApp has enabled “cheap, quick…and broad dissemination and unfettered communication” by militants.

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