Srinagar: A considerable number of Kashmiri youths, especially from south Kashmir, have been missing and are believed to have joined the ranks of militant groups after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July this year.
A conglomerate of four districts– Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag, which has seen an uprising since Wani was killed in an encounter with government forces on July 8, is believed to have accounted for the disappearance of nearly 80 youths in past two months with majority from Pulwama district, sources in the know said.
According to the intercepts of militants groups and some sketchy intelligence inputs gathered from the ground in south Kashmir, youths were mainly moving towards Hizbul Mujahideen militant group with a few attracted to banned Lashker-e-Taiba, they said.
Senior officials in the government establishment agreed that there was no clear picture of situation in south Kashmir’s rural areas and with army and government forces being pushed into these places, a clear picture will emerge.
Police has been forced to concentrate more on law and order than on counter-insurgency operation in the last two months there has been little intelligence that has been generated during the period, they said.
Simultaneously, the government forces including army is moving quietly into south Kashmir, which has been the most politically sensitive area of the Valley and centre point of 2-month old agitation, to ‘re-claim’ the lost ground from the agitators and bring some semblance of rule of law.
During a recent meeting, army top officials suggested that there was a need for “re-claiming the areas which had been under occupation of protesters” after which troops have been moved in for area domination.
Traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway was being regulated and allowed to move only in a convoy, the officials said. This has been happening because of protests post killing of Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. Over 70 people have been killed so far in these protests.
South Kashmir, a traditional bastion of ruling PDP which is having an alliance government with the BJP, has become into a virtual breeding ground for militants with many youths joining their rank and file or becoming their sympathisers.
Better intelligence network of militants, assistance of people to local militants, heavy turnouts at the funerals of militants and stone-pelting on government forces even during encounters has virtually become a routine affair in the region.
Young boys armed with stones, lathis have laid a virtual seize of arterial roads leading to the highway, thereby restricting the movement. Constant engagement of protesters with government forces show little signs of things returning to normalcy any time soon.
Pictures emerging from lanes and by-lanes show written slogans favouring independence, support to militant groups and glorification of militants killed in encounters with the government forces.