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.
3 militants killed in Shopian encounter
Slain includes IPS officer’s brother; civilians, forces personnel among injured
Srinagar, Jan 22: Three militants, including the brother of an IPS officer, were killed and an army soldier wounded in a gunfight in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Tuesday.
Reports said that the gunfight broke out Tuesday morning after a joint party of the army and the state police launched a cordon-and-search-operation in Shirmal village following inputs about the presence of militants.
They said the militants opened fire on the forces after the latter fired several shots towards their hideout located in an orchard in the village.
There was a momentary lull before the firefight resumed, leading to the killing of three militants, news agency Global News Service reported.
One army soldier has also sustained injuries during the course of the gunfight, it reported while quoting unnamed sources.
Quoting official sources, news agency GNS said the slain militants included Shamsul Haq Mengnoo son of Mohammad Rafiq Mengnoo, a resident of Draggud village of Shopian district.
Shamsul Haq was pursuing Bachelors of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) at government college Zakura when he joined militancy. His elder brother Inamul Haq is 2012 IPS batch officer who is posted in North East.
The identity of the two other militants was being ascertained, police said.
Reports, however, identified the two other slain as Amir Ahmad Bhat (21) son of Late Abdul Aziz Bhat of Chadipora, Shopian and Shuaib Ahmad Shah (19) son of Ghulam Rasool Shah of Zahapora, Shopian.
The slain, as per reports, were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit and were involved in a number of attacks in the southern district.
After conducting all necessary formalities, the bodies of the trio were later in the evening handed over to their families for last rites, reports said.
They added that at least seven persons were injured in clashes near the site of the encounter at Heff Shirmal as government forces resorted to tear gas shelling and pellet firing.
Later in the day, a police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched jointly by police and other forces in Shirmal area of
Zainapora in Shopian area after credible inputs about the presence of militants.“As the searches were going on, the search party was fired upon by the militants. The fire was retaliated leading to a gunfight. In the ensuing encounter, three militants were killed and the bodies were recovered from the site of encounter. Their identities and affiliations are being ascertained,” the spokesperson said.
He added that it was a difficult operation due to the terrain and there were clashes in the area which was handled by the government forces.
“Only five cases of injuries were reported and three of them were discharged after preliminary medical attention. Separately six security forces personnel injured during the clashes have been discharged after medical attention,” the spokesperson said.
Police, he said, has registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter. Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter.
Shamsul met ‘sad end’ despite his IPS brother’s efforts: Ex-DGP
Srinagar, Jan 22: Former Jammu and Kashmir Police chief Shesh Paul Vaid on Tuesday said that Hizb militant Shamsul Haq met a “sad end” despite efforts by his IPS officer brother to bring him back.
Taking to Twitter soon after the news of his killing in Shopian gunfight started doing the rounds, Vaid, who was the director general of police in J&K when Haq turned to militancy, said: “I remember the efforts that were made by his (Haq’s) brother /other family members and J&K Police to bring him back to mainstream but he met a sad end today.”
Haq, brother of IPS officer Inam ul Haq, was killed along with his two associates in a gunfight in Shirmal village of Shopian.
Militants killed in Budgam affiliated with Al Badr: Police
Srinagar, Jan 22: Jammu and Kashmir Police on Tuesday said the three militants slain in a gunfight with the government forces in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Tuesday were affiliated with Al Badr militant outfit.
In a statement, a police spokesman said that the slain militants were identified as Sabzar Ahmad son of Ali Mohammad Mir resident of Lassipora Pulwama, Syed Rabani son of Mohammad Hussain resident of Nazneenpora Shopian and Towseef Ahmad Itoo son of Abdul Aziz resident of Nowpora Payeen Pulwama.
The slain militants, he said, were affiliated with proscribed outfit Al-Badar and were wanted by the law.
“Incriminating material including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for the purpose of investigation,” he said.
Bodies of the slain militants were handed over to their families after completion of medico-legal formalities, he added.
The three militants were killed after a daylong gunfight in Hapatnar forests on Tuesday.
4 photojournalists injured in pellet firing: Reporters without Borders, KEG condemn incident
Srinagar, Jan 22: Four photojournalists were hit by pellets while covering the Tuesday’s gun battle in Shopian district.
The injured included Hindustan Times photojournalist Waseem Andrabi, Rising Kashmir‘s Nisar ul Haq, and Junaid Gulzar and Mir Burhan, both working with local publications.
Andrabi had six pellet wounds in his face and neck, narrowly missing his eyes.
Reports said the photojournalists were walking towards the encounter site in Shopian when they came across a blockade put up by the protesting youth.
Government forces and locals were engaged in violent clashes around the same area where the journalists were present.
“At some distance, the police and CRPF parties were holding their position as stone pelting had begun. I raised my camera to show that we were photojournalists and out of nowhere, we were showered with pellets,” Andrabi told The Wire.
Andrabi was hit with six pellets, including on his lips, forehead and neck.
The incident prompted statements of condemnation from all major journalist bodies in Kashmir.
Kashmir Press Photographers Association (KPPA) termed the incident as a brutal, murderous assault on photojournalists by security forces.
“KPPA believes that the oft-repeated assault on the photojournalists is uncalled for and employing such tactics by the government forces won’t deter us from carrying out our professional duties. The association urges the governor Satya Pal Malik and director general of police Dilbag Singh to personally look into the matter and order a magisterial enquiry into the incident followed by strict action against the erring cops,” the association said
The Kashmir Press Club said “It is not the first time such an incident has happened. Most unfortunate that journalists are made a targeted when they are only performing their duties. It is appalling that pellets were fired at them”.
Kashmir Video Journalist Association (KVJA) and Kashmir National Television Journalist Association also condemned the attack on journalists in Shopian and asked state’s governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those responsible.
“This has become a routine that journalists while performing their professional duties are either thrashed or at time showered with pellets. KVJA appeals to governor and DGP to initiate strict action against those who are involved in today’s incident and make sure that it doesn’t happen in the future”.
Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international body for journalists, Tuesday called upon the Indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the pellet firing at journalists in Shopian.
In a statement on Twitter, RSF said the government forces’ violence’ against Kashmiri photojournalists is ‘unacceptable.’
“Unacceptable violence by #India’s security forces against photojournalists covering a gunfight in south,” RSF tweeted.
“We call on #indian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation on this blatant attack on press freedom. #JournalismIsNotACrime,” it tweeted.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) too strongly condemned the use of pellets against a group of journalists.
“This is not for the first time that the law enforcing agencies have used force against the media persons when they were covering the events on the streets within and outside Srinagar. This has become a routine,” a KEG spokesman said.
He added that every time the issue is being brought to the notice of the authorities, the media is being promised that they will investigate the issue.
“It has rarely happened that action was initiated against anyone for violating the basic conduct vis-a-vis media. Already one photo-journalist has lost an eye to pellets in Srinagar. While police is issuing statements on every single incident from detaining gamblers to seizing fukki, it avoided even mentioning the incident in routine daily statement,” the spokesman said.
KEG demanded a quick and time bound investigation into the incident and action against the personnel found guilty.
“The attacks on media are detrimental to the very existence of a society in 21st century,” the spokesman said.
Srinagar youth hit with stone ‘hurled by CRPF’
Admitted to SKIMS with fractured skull; CRPF spokesman claims ‘youth fell down’
Srinagar, Jan 22: A youth from Habba Kadal locality of Srinagar was hospitalised in a serious condition after a stone allegedly hurled by CRPF trooper hit his head on Tuesday afternoon.
Family sources said the boy identified as Mohammad Younis had left home to buy some vegetable, however, a CRPF trooper hurled a stone from the bunker located near Habba Kadal, resulting in serious head injuries to the boy.
Soon after the incident, the injured was rushed to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, from where he was referred to SKIMS, Soura.
Medical Superintendent SKIMS, Dr Farooq Jan, as per a local news agency KNO, said that “parietal bone of the youth had fracture and the bone fragment has sneaked into the skull, leading to contusions.”
He also said that CT scan of the patient will be repeated to ascertain the damage. He, however, maintained that they are monitoring his condition as of now.
Meanwhile, CRPF spokesman, Sanjay Sharma, as per news agency KNO, said a group of five to six youth started pelting stones at the bunker and while chasing them away, a youth “slipped and fell down”.