95 youth joined militancy in last one year in Kashmir: Police
95 youth have joined militancy over the last one year in Kashmir where 200 militants are active, a senior police official said today, adding that recent incidents showed criminalization creeping into the ranks of the ultras.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) S J M Gillani said the militants were indulging in a "psychological warfare" by circulating their videos through social media.
"As of now, there are about 200 militants active, which is roughly the same number that has been there last year as well. 95 people have joined militancy last year," he told reporters here.
The IGP said among these militants, 110 were locals while the rest are foreigners.
Asked about the militants circulating their videos on social media, Gillani said, "It is a psychological warfare that they are trying to indulge in. One of the moves that we did (to stop the circulation of the videos) was try and block the (social media) apps. So let us see how that works."
He said the authorities would assess the impact of the ban on 22 social media sites and applications at the end of the one-month period. The ban was imposed on April 26.
"We have taken this measure and for a month certain applications have been blocked. We will assess the effects of that after one month," he said.
When referred to the trend of militants appearing at funerals of their associates like witnessed yesterday, the police official said, "We are taking steps to contain it."
On the spate of attacks on banks in south Kashmir, Gillani said, "We are seeing criminalization in a way."
He said the militants are "attacking civilians like you have seen that in Mir Bazaar (in Kulgam) when policemen were attacked as they were trying to clear the traffic or a bank cash-van was attacked in which two civilians and five policemen lost their lives."
He said the militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen were behind the bank robberies.
"Last year, four cases were registered and during investigation we came to know that active militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen of that area were involved and involvement of both these outfits has come to the fore in the cases this year as well," the official said.
The involvement has come to the fore after seeing the footage of CCTVs installed in those banks.
"And after questioning the bank staff and eyewitnesses present during the incidents, we have identified these people," he said.
One of them was Abu Ali, a terrorist who was killed recently at Budgam, the IGP said, adding efforts were on to arrest or neutralize others.
He said that the security forces were facing certain issues in south Kashmir on the situation front but they were taking steps to contain it.
"We have certain issues in certain parts of south Kashmir," Gillani said, adding the security forces were carrying out anti-militancy operations on day-to-day basis there.
At the same time, they were taking precautions so that civilian casualties do not take place.
"There is nothing that the fear of dealing on the ground is stopping us from taking action on the anti-militancy front. So, whatever precautions we have, we have SOPs in place, we have to take precautions and we take them," he said.
Asked whether the fear among the people was affecting the information network of the security agencies, the IGP said, "I do not think that is correct because this year, the number of terrorists killed in south Kashmir till now is, if not more, similar to what it was last year or much higher than it was the year before."
Gillani said five cases have been registered since the month of March in the cases related to killing of five political workers.
"By and large, when you see all these incidents, they are happening in a small area of south Kashmir and we have identified all the terrorists of that area who are involved in this. We will complete these cases by arresting or neutralizing them," he said.
The IGP said the overall situation with regards to law and order and militancy in central and north Kashmir is completely under control.