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45 youth take-up arms in 4 months; MBA, PhD, MPhil holders among new recruits

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Srinagar, May 03: At least 45 youths from the Kashmir Valley including an MBA, an MPhil and a PhD scholar have joined militancy this year till mid-April, according to officials, as the unusual surge in numbers take the security establishment by surprise.
According to the top brass of the security establishment in the border state, Shopian and Kulgam in south Kashmir have emerged as a major hub by respectively accounting for 12 and 9 of the 45 youths.
The other areas of south Kashmir which have witnessed youths taking to militancy are Anantnag (seven), Pulwama (four) and Awantipura (three).
Moreover, unconfirmed reports, which were in the process of verification, suggest that three more from Pulwama had joined militant groups, officials said on Thursday.
Similarly, in north Kashmir, one youth from Handwara, two from Kupwara, one each from Bandipora and Sopore and one from Srinagar have disappeared in the recent past and are suspected to have joined militant organisations, they said.
This includes Junaid Ashraf Sehrai, 26, an MBA degree holder from Kashmir University, and son of Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, who took over as chairman of Tehrek-e-Hurriyat from Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Tehreek-e-Hurriyat is a pro-Pakistan amalgam of separatists groups.
The list also includes a 26-year-old PhD scholar Mannan Bashir Wani hailing from Kupwara, officials said.
Wani was studying in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
One more youth from Anantnag-with an M Phil degree too chose to tread the path of militancy.
Pictures of Zubair Ahmad Wani, a resident of Dehruna village in Dooru area of Anantnag district, posing with an AK-47 went viral in April.
According to officials, every funeral of a local militant spawns at least two additions to the ranks of militant groups.
The Valley has witnessed killing of of at least 55 militants including 27 locals this year.
“It has become a bottom less pit. We engage, counter, eliminate or make them surrender and the very next day, social media gives us proof of birth of another militant.
This vicious cycle needs to be broken,” said a senior army official who is engaged in anti-militancy operations.
Ruling party politicians from south Kashmir have reportedly abandoned their ancestral homes and housed themselves in well-fortified accommodations in Srinagar or Jammu.
Efforts to seek their comments on the situation in their constituencies did not yield any result as they were reluctant to be drawn into any debate related to militancy.
A senior politician, who did not wish to be named, said: “Never has this situation arisen when space for mainstream politicians has shrunk to this extent. It is a scary situation”.
Security agencies believe that in April there has seen a conspicuous rise in the number of locals joining various militant groups after 13 local terrorists were killed in encounters with security forces in Shopian and Anantnag.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been quite vocal about PDP-BJP government’s alleged failure in checking the rising trend of youths joining militancy.
“Mehbooba Mufti’s biggest and least talked about failure has been the massive jump in the numbers of young Kashmiri men joining the ranks of militant organisations,” he had tweeted earlier.
On more and more locals joining militancy, he had said, “…Is no one in a position of power in Delhi alarmed by this because I certainly am!” Police has approached many parents requesting them to ask their children to surrender on the assurance of a normal life.
The story remains unchanged, says a senior police official, who adds that many a times parents express their helplessness.
Appeals have been made by Mehbooba Mufti as well as state police chief SP Vaid and senior army officers but in vain.
“We cannot keep a finger on any particular reason for the spurt in number of youth joining militancy. However, it could be growing influence of religious indoctrination in which unemployment emerges as a catalyst for a quick reaction to pick up a gun,” says a senior security official.
The first four months of 2018 has already witnessed 100 deaths, including 55 militants, 20 security personnel and 25 civilians.
Of the 55 militants killed, 27 were locals whereas the rest were described as foreigners by security agencies in the press handouts issued post-encounters.
In 2017, a total of 126 youths had picked up guns.
It was the highest number since 2010, according to a recent data presented in the state assembly and Parliament.
There has been a steady rise in the number of youth taking up arms in the Valley since 2014 onwards as compared to 2011, 2012, and 2013.
In 2010, 54 youths had joined militancy while in 2011, the number came down to 23 and further dipped to 21 in 2012 and 6 in 2013.
In 2014, the number shot up to 53 and in 2015, it reached 66 before touching the highest mark of 88 in 2016, the data showed.


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Four more militants killed in twin encounters

3 slain in Awantipora gunfight, one in Sopore; brief exchange of fire in Anantnag

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, May 18: The month of Ramadan is seeing a surge in anti-militancy operations as Saturday also witnessed two more gunfights in south and north Kashmir in which four militants were killed.
The first encounter begun at the wee hours of Saturday at Panzgam area of Awantipora in Pulwama in which three militants were killed. The second gunfight took place in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district which ended in killing of another militant.
Giving details about the first gunfight, a police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched by police and government forces early Saturday morning at Panzgam.
During the search operation, the hiding militants fired on the search party, which was retaliated leading to an encounter.
In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter.
The slain militants were identified as Showkat Dar, a native of Panzgam, Irfan War of Wadoora Payeen Sopore, and Muzaffar Sheikh of Tahab Pulwama.
All the three slain militants, according to the police records, were affiliated with militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
As per police records, Showkat had a long history of militancy related cases.
“He was involved in planning and executing series of militant attacks in the area. He was part of a group involved in killing of Army soldier Aurangzeb last year in 2018. He was also involved in killing of a policeman Aqib Ahmad Wagay last year,” the spokesperson said.
He added that incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.
Meanwhile, Showkat was interred amid pro-freedom slogans and spontaneous shutdown in his native village. Before his burial, thousands of people attended his funeral.
On June 14, 2018, Aurangzeb, a rifleman with 44 Rashtriya Rifles was kidnapped and shot dead by militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama when he was travelling in a private vehicle, on his way home in Poonch.
Aurangzeb was part of an officer’s team which killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sameer Tiger on May 1, 2018.
Sopore encounter
In second encounter of the day, one militant was killed in brief exchange of fire at Hathlangoo area of North Kashmir’s Sopore.
A police officer said that acting on a specific human intelligence, a cordon was laid at village Hathlangoo. “As the suspected house was zeroed-in, the hiding militant opened fire resulting in an encounter. In the ensuing gunfight, the militant was killed,” the officer said.
“It was a clean operation and no collateral damage took place in the gunfight,” he said.
Sources said that in the incident, a residential house also got completely damaged.
The officer identified the slain militant as Waseem Ahmad Naik son of Abdul Gani Naik of Udipora Barsoo Awantipora.
According to sources, Waseem was missing since March this year. The family had accordingly filed a missing report in police station concerned.
Meanwhile, authorities suspended internet services in Sopore town as a precautionary measure in wake of this search operation.
Militants escape after brief exchange of fire in Anantnag
Militants on Saturday morning managed to escape after brief exchange of fire in Dehruna village of Anantnag village.
An official confirmed that militants have managed to escape in Dehruna and operation has been called off.
Earlier, a joint team of forces including 19 RR and SOG cordoned off Dehruna area of Anantnag following specific information about the presence of some militants in the area.
As the joint team of forces intensified the searches towards the suspected spot, the hiding militants opened fire, leading to an encounter, he said.
However during initial exchange of fire, militants managed to break the cordon and escaped from the spot, he said, adding that after initial exchange, cordon was extended to nearby villages. However, the operation after finding no militant there was called off.
Meanwhile, soon after news of encounter spread in the area, youth took to streets and started pelting stones on government forces, which was retaliated by smoking tear smoke shells.
Eyewitnesses said that several youth received minor injuries during the clashes.

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Six gunfights in first 12 days of Ramadan

Most begun around Sehri time; 11 militants, two soldiers, two civilians killed

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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ENCOUNTERS IN RAMADAN
May 10: 1 militant killed in Herpora, Shopian
May 12: 2 militants killed in Hend, Shopian
May 16: 5 militants, 2 civilians, soldier killed in Pulwama, Shopian
May 18: 4 militants killed in Awantipora, Sopore

Srinagar, May 18: Government forces have stepped-up operations against militants this Ramadan as Kashmir has witnessed multiple gunfights since the start of the month of fasting.
In the first 12 days of the holy month, as many as 11 militants, two soldiers and two civilians were killed in six encounters, most of which broke out in the pre-dawn hours.
Among the six encounters, five have taken place in south Kashmir.
The first shoot-out in Ramadan took place on May 10 at Ramnagri area of Herpora in Shopian, in which an ISJK militant Ishfaq Sofi was killed. Since then, there has been no letup all the way till Saturday when two gunfights took place in Pulwama and Sopore resulting in killing of four militants.
The second encounter took place on May 12, again in Shopian district.
In it, two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in Hend Sitapora village. The slain were identified as Javeed Ahmad Bhat of Redwani, Kulgam and Adil Bashir Wani of Waripora, DH-Pora, Kulgam.
On May 16, two encounters broke out in south Kashmir between the government forces and militants in twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian.
In Pulwama, three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants, an army man and a civilian were killed in a pre-dawn encounter near the district township.
The slain militants were identified as Naseer Ahmad Pandith of Karimabad, Pulwama, Umar Ahmad Mir of Barthipora, Shopian and Khalid, JeM commander, a native of Pakistan.
The deceased civilian was identified as Rayees Ahmad Dar. His elder brother, Mohammad Younis, a businessman by profession received fire arm injuries in the gun-battle.
One of the soldiers, Sepoy Sandeep Kumar injured in the gunfight succumbed to his injuries at Army’s 92 base hospital.
In Shopian, two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, a soldier and a civilian were killed in a brief encounter in the orchards of Handew village.
The encounter broke out after a joint search operation was launched by Army, SOG and CRPF at around 04:30 am, following credible inputs about the presence of militants.
The slain militants were later identified as Yawar Munshi of Thokerpora, Shopian and Shakeel Ahmad Dar of Tikroo, Shopian.
The local resident killed in an encounter was identified as Ishtiyaq Ahmad Bhat of Handew.
In the gunfight, an Army man, Sepoy Rohit sustained injuries.
In the wee hours of Saturday, another gunfight broke out in Panzgam area of Awantipora in Pulwama.
In an encounter, three militants of Hizbul Mujahideen identified as Showkat Ahmad Dar of Panzgam, Pulwama, Irfan Ahamd of Sopore and Muzaffar Ahmad of Tahab, Pulwama were killed.
On the same day, a militant was killed in a brief shoot out in north Kashmir’s Hatlangoo area in Sopore.
He was identified as Wasim Ahmad Naik of Udipora, Barsoo in Awantipora.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order, Munir Khan said that precise information was leading to the encounters.
“We have not changed the strategy; we always want zero or minimal damage during the encounters. It is good that if an encounter breaks out in early hours as people as well as police won’t face any difficulties,” he said.

 
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Hindus listed as Muslims in Scholarship scheme : After KM report, GoI asks JK to probe Kulgam scholarship gaffe

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, May 18: The government of India’s Ministry of Minority Affairs has asked the Jammu and Kashmir’s Social Welfare Department to hold an inquiry into the discrepancies in the list of candidates selected for Minority Scholarship Scheme in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
The development comes after The Kashmir Monitor reported on May 15 about the discrepancies in the list of candidates for Kulgam district getting financial aid in Minority Affairs ‘merit cum means’ scholarship for professional and technical courses.
Data compiled by Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has listed over 400 Hindu candidates as Muslim in Kulgam availing benefits under the scheme.
The Union Minority Affairs Ministry has now written to J&K’s Social Welfare Department to initiate a probe for unveiling the facts into the matter.
“So far, it has been found that bank account numbers of 474 candidates who have availed benefit under the scheme are not from Jammu and Kashmir. Everything will be cleared once the probe is completed,” said an official of the Social Welfare Department.
Asked whether any candidates from Kulgam district have availed the benefit under the scheme, the official said, “The mandate of the probe committee is to look into all these aspects including why the names of actual candidates of Kulgam are missing from the list. This committee will also look who is responsible for these discrepancies.”
Director, Social Welfare Department, Kashmir, Rukhsana Gani, confirmed that the Union Minority Affairs has asked them to hold the probe.
“Prime-facie, some wrong has happened at Minority Affairs Department. They have told us to hold the inquiry. We will initiate the probe very soon to unveil the facts (sic),” she said.
The objective of the Merit-Cum-Means Scholarship, as per the Union Ministry, is to provide financial assistance to the poor and meritorious students belonging to minority communities (Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikhs, Parsis and Jain) to enable them to pursue professional and technical courses.
As already reported by this newspaper, data on the National Scholarship Portal lists 474 candidates, majority of them are Hindu names, availing a cumulative Rs 1.5 crore under this scheme for 2019-20 in Kulgam district.

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