In Fighting Terror In Kashmir, Police Strategy To Go Beyond Encounters

The recent involvement of two local youth in the New Year's eve suicide attack on the CRPF camp in south Kashmir's Pulwama has served as a chilling reminder of how huge the challenge still is

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117 local youth joined various terror groups in 2017, the highest in the last one decade.


Srinagar:  Homegrown terror has always been a major challenge for security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. But the recent involvement of two local youth in the New Year's eve suicide attack on the CRPF camp in south Kashmir's Pulwama has served as a chilling reminder of how huge the challenge still is.

In a video message recorded just before he set out to die, 16-year-old Fardeen invoked religion to carry out the suicide attack. That video, the police say, is part of the strategy of terrorists to lure impressionable youth for such attacks. This means, if the police have to measure up to the challenge, they will also need to address the ideological dimensions of the problem. Swiftly.

According to official records, 117 local youth joined various terror groups in 2017, the highest in the last one decade.

"Besides other measures, we will have to tackle them at religious level, at madrassa and school level. The biggest challenge and threat is from social media and we have deal with that as well," said Munir Khan, the police chief of Kashmir region.

"They are catching them very young. 16 is no age to understand what's good and what's bad. They catch them young, lure them," said Mr Khan.

Shamsul Vikar agrees. He should know.

The budding cricketer had gone missing from home in March last year to join the Hizbul Mujahideen. It was a mistake, Shamsul Vikar, who was arrested by the police in November last year, told NDTV.

"I believed that Jihad was obligatory. I did not have enough knowledge and understanding of Quran but I heard speeches in gatherings, sermons and saw video clips on my phone. I joined militancy so that God accepts my martyrdom," he said.

Now he wants to play cricket again once he is released.

It was after his arrest that at least 10 local youth including footballer Majid Khan kicked the gun and returned home. Majid Khan retuned after his mother's appeal went viral on social media.

Shamsul hopes more youth do not get carried away, as he once did.

"If someone tells you to join Jihad, tell him to do it yourself first. I have realised that 80 per cent of the youth who join the ranks of the groups come from poor families," he told NDTV.

It is a message that the police prays reaches young Kashmiris before they repeat his mistake. If they do, a police officer said, it cannot get any more dangerous: When death becomes a goal for the fresh recruits.


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