Srinagar, Oct 14: Recruitment of local militants is up in Jammu and Kashmir and according to an internal assessment of the security forces, it has already reached 131 since the beginning of 2020, and it is expected to go as high as 180 by December-end, according to a report by The Print.
This is a step up from militant recruitments last year. According to official statistics, 131 Kashmiri youngsters have joined militant organisations this year as against 117 last year. The local recruitment figures in 2018 and 2017 were 214 and 128, respectively.
The statistics are in line with the data on militant recruitments revealed by top cops and an Army General in Srinagar last week.
According to the report, security agencies also believe that the numbers could go up further but lack of weapons is what is preventing recruitment by the terror groups.
The official assessment, according to the report, has also found that the long defunct terror 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 terror 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 report, quoting a source in the defence and security establishment, gives one plausible explanation: “The idea behind the two new organisations is to give an indigenous spin to the terror activities in Kashmir and to absolve Pakistan, which has been under heat due to the FATF sword hanging over its head.”
The “source” added that the effort was to show that terrorism 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.
Of the 89 locals who had joined militancy 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 terrorists. According to the report, only 25 of them are Pakistanis 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 terror 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.
According to the report, security officials have assessed that though militant recruitments are going up, they are facing a shortage of weapons. “It is estimated that they are waiting for weapons and ammunition to recruit more,” the report said quoting an unnamed source.
In many of the recent encounters, only pistols were recovered from the dead terrorists, 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.
Pakistan is also trying to push in Chinese assault rifles, The Print reported.
“There is great dearth of weapons and ammunition for the terrorists 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,” the report quoted a “source” as saying.