SRINAGAR : As many as 164 young men from Jammu and Kashmir have joined militant groups till October 26 this year, security agencies have told the Centre. The count is far higher than previous years and indicates that the approaching winter months could be even more troublesome than usual in the Valley this year, reported HT.
According to a report published by Hindustan Times newspaper said that worse, the numbers signing up for militancy could likely cross 200 before the year ends, the security agencies said. This year’s recruits would be swelling the ranks of 350-400 militants already operating in the Valley.
“In 2015, only 66 young men joined militant groups. The numbers rose slightly in 2016, with an estimated 88 picking up the gun. Last year, the count was estimated to be at least 120,” the report said.
“The number of locals joining militant groups dropped to an insignificant 3 and 7, respectively, in February and March this year, but jumped all of a sudden in June, July, and August,” HT quoted a senior official familiar with the matter as saying.
In August alone, an estimated 25 young men joined militant groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen, the security agencies said. The count was similar in June and July, with 24 and 25 locals respectively joining the militant ranks.
The newspaper quoted agencies saying that the Bahawalpur-based Jaish seems to have drawn the maximum number of recruits. Over 60 locals have joined the Jaish since January 2018.
Most of the young men who have joined the militant ranks come from the restive districts of Anantnag, Shopian, and Pulwama. As many as 50 of the 164 recruits this year are from Pulwama district alone. About 30 young men are from Shopian, the report quoted the security agencies.
“There are several reasons why more youths are joining militant groups. The debate over Article 35A, and the splintering of the alliance between the Peoples Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party contributed to the growing tension in the state,” a senior official in the security establishment, who did not want to be named, said HT.