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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

‘Social networking sites new militant recruitment ground in Kashmir’

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, August 04, 2014
First Published: 14:35 IST(4/8/2014) | Last Updated: 23:29 IST(4/8/2014)
Kashmir is witnessing a paradigm shift in militancy. Unlike 90s, access to social networking sites and online radicalisation in semi-urban areas is drawing young and educated into the militant folds like never before.
 
An offical letter by Kashmir’s top cop to security agencies, a copy of which lies with the HT, reveals a new trend and a fresh e-counterinsurgency strategy being formulated by the police in the state. 
 
“Reports suggest growing radicalisation, especially in semi-urban and rural areas, a feature hitherto unknown. There is induction of educated youths too,” says the secret letter.
 
The letter has come in the backdrop of recruitment of at least 16 youth from south Kashmir by the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Hizbul Mujahideen in the first six months this year.
 
Reports suggest local militants were pivotal in carrying out pointed killings and attacks ahead of the parliament polls in the state to impose poll boycott.
 
While one killed militant this year was enrolled as a scholar with a research centre at Kashmir University, another had a professional degree.  
 
“A well-knit mechanism of separatists, over-ground workers and fundamentalist elements is at work,” the letter warns.
 
It also referred to social networking sites as a major recruitment ground. “Extensive use of social networking sites are also indicated,” says the letter.
 
There are dozens of pages dedicated to slain militants doing the rounds on the social networking sites. The exclusive pictures of dead militants with guns draw huge traffic to these pages, mainly created on the Facebook.
 
The police are mulling multi-pronged strategy to arrest the trend of educated youth joining militancy.
 
It has started a ground work to identify issues forcing the youth to join the militant ranks. “There is need to win back misguided youth,” says the letter.
 
Anger among new generation runs deep in the valley as the conflict lingers on with no sight to any political solution. The unresolved conflict continues to breed militants within.
 
A series of youth-oriented programmes like country-wide tours, cricket tournaments and musical shows in rural areas seems to have failed to yield desired results.
 
Slightest provocations continue to push youth into militancy. According to police survey, 11 youth joined militancy because of the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru last year.
 
The disproportionate use of force during street protests, revolving detention of more than 3,000 youth since 2010 and harassment of families of protesters have pushed several youth into militancy.  
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