Youth Joining Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir on the Rise Since 2014, Says Home Ministry

Despite the number of youth joining militancy and cases of infiltration rising, the home ministry insists that the situation in the state is on the mend.

Demonstrators try to hurl stones at a police vehicle during a protest in Srinagar after Burhan Wani's killing and security force violence against protestors August 30, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Danish Ismail/File Photo

Demonstrators try to hurl stones at a police vehicle during a protest in Srinagar after Burhan Wani’s killing and security force violence against protestors, August 30, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Danish Ismail/File Photo

Adding to Jammu and Kashmir’s worries, the government has said that both the number of youth joining militancy in the state and the estimated net infiltration into the state witnessed a spike in 2016.

Rising militancy and infiltrations

While 2016 saw the number of youngsters joining militancy go up by 33% to 88 from 66 in the previous year, according to government estimates, net infiltration showed a marked increase of over 250%. Around 119 infiltrators managed to sneak in during the year, as against just 33 in 2015.

This information was provided by minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday (March 21) in response to a written query. According to the data provided by him, the number of youth joining militancy in the state has risen constantly from 2014, when the Narendra Modi government came to power in the Centre and its government in alliance with the People’s Democratic Party (led initially by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and upon his demise by his daughter Mehbooba Mufti) came to power in the state.

While 16 youth took to militancy in 2013, according to government, the number shot up to 53 in 2014, rose further to 66 in 2015 and then reached 66 in 2016.

Infiltration also on the rise

When it comes to infiltration, the trend may not have been as linear but remains equally disturbing. After a marked fall in both the number of infiltration attempts and the net infiltrations during 2013, 2014 and 2015, the numbers rose sharply in 2016, when 371 attempts were made and 119 militants actually got in.

In 2013, 277 attempts were made and 97 militants infiltrated, in 2014 the numbers were 222 and 65, falling further to 121 and 33 respectively in 2015. The spike in 2016 means there has been a major shift in logistics and challenges at the ground level.

The minister’s reply also noted that the state has been affected by terrorist violence that is sponsored and supported from across the border and that the levels of terrorist violence in the hinterland of Jammu and Kashmir were closely “linked to the infiltration from across the border”. In such a scenario, the current figures do not bode well for the state.

Minister says situation has improved

Despite the rise in both infiltration and number of youth taking to militancy, Ahir in reply to another question insisted that “the situation in Kashmir in the current year has improved to a large extent. The participation of youth in violence has ceased and normal activities are going on smoothly”.

In support of the argument, the minister referenced month-wise data on law and order situation in the state since July 2016, when the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani triggered extensive protests across the Valley.

While the number of “law and order incidences” in July 2016 stood at 820, it gradually dropped to 747 in August, 535 in September, 179 in October, 73 in November and 36 in December 2016. The number further fell to just five cases in January this year, before against rising to 49 in February and 27 so far this month.

“Barring some violence-prone pockets, the situation is presently normal. Efforts are afoot to bring the situation under control in these vulnerable pockets,” the minister said, adding that “miscreants are being dealt under law and their mentors are arrested/ detained”.

On the measures taken by the government to check separatism, alienation among the youth and inclination towards militancy, the minister stated that the Jammu and Kashmir police has taken a number of initiatives to promote youth engagement, which includes organising sports tournaments and cultural events. Similarly, he said the state government has also been organising sports events and creating employment avenues, including in the civil and police departments, through initiatives like Udaan and Himayat to wean away the youth towards more productive activities.

As for the surrender policy notified by the state government on January 31, 2004, the minister said it is working and 219 militants have benefited under the scheme thus far.