The suicide attack on CRPF formation at Lettpora in Pulwama on Sunday, which culminated in the death of five men of the force besides the two attackers, is an unmistakable instance of changing phenomenon in Kashmir militancy. The attack, carried out by two local boys—Fardeen Ahmad of Tral and Manzoor Baba of Drubgam—is a warning that Kashmiri youth are ready to take the battle into security forces’ backyard. The suicide attacks on security forces had remained the forte of foreign militants so far. In the past, there is just one odd instance of a local militant—Afaq Ahmad of Khanyar Srinagar—blowing himself up outside the entry gate of army’s Corps Headquarters at Badami Bangh in May 2000. The local militants usually adopted the strategy of hit and run. Hizbul Mujahideen mostly relied on RDX using it in Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). The Hizb carried quite a high profile IED attacks in the past. Suicide attacks used to be carried out by Pakistani or Afghan cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jash-e-Mohammad. The Lettapora attack has signaled that local militants are not scared of turning their bodies into guided missiles. There is increasing recognition in the state narrative that the ideology of militancy continues to be the dominant intellectual force in Kashmir’s younger generation. It is, in fact, a mindset of a generation that has come up through the violent crisis of the past over twenty eight years. Unlike earlier ones, this generations is brave, fearless, and over and above, politically cognizant. Their eyes spew fire and voices anger. The street rebellion in the wake of killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in July 2016 is a case in point. Braving the bullets and pellets of security forces the teenaged Kashmiri boys led the street battle against government forces. More than 100 persons have died and thousands others have got wounded in police action. Yet, the streets kept on boiling for over six months. The embers are still there to ignite massive fire any time. 2008 and 2010 were no different from what we witnessed in 2016. The security forces may claim to have killed more than 200 militants across Kashmir in the last one year. But killing a militant would never end militancy in Kashmir. Militancy is a mindset. For every militant killed, there is some other boy ready to wear on the boot. The growing popularity of militants among common masses is another reason that makes militants strong. Over the past sometime, security forces have not only to battle militants during encounters but they have to face the wrath of common people as well. People—young and old, men and women—gather on encounter sites in support of militants, and engage security forces in yet another battle from a front that has so far been an unfamiliar for them. They pelt stones and bricks on security men, raise slogans in favor of militants and sing songs of azadi from mosque loudspeakers. Only last month, three civilians have died and dozens wounded when hundreds of people engaged security forces in street battles during different encounters. Last week, security forces had to call off search operation at Karimabad in Pulwama after local residents hit streets to foil the search operation. New Delhi’s aggressive political behavior is also adding to this new wave. Hindu fundamentalists feel empowered in the shadow of present Narendra Modi-led government. They are virtually controlling the streets with no fear of law. Their daily threats to minorities, more particularly to Muslims in India, are furthering the sense of alienation in Kashmir. Hindu extremists’ threat-politics reverberated in Jammu and Kashmir as well during PDP-BJP coalition rule. One Kashmiri trucker was lynched by a Hindu extremist mob at Udhampur in Jammu. There is growing feeling of insecurity and the RSS and its affiliate groups are adding to this fear by their nefarious actions. The silence from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks like official license to the extremist elements. India refusal of talks with Pakistan to resolve the issues diplomatically and peacefully is largely deemed as arrogance.
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