The government forces are facing a tough challenge to tackle the unrest in South Kashmir, where a number of youth have joined militancy in the last few months.
According to top police officials they are worried over the trend of local youth disrupting the encounters between the forces and the militants. On Saturday as HM militant commander, Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, and his associate remained holed inside houses at Tral, people had thronged to the encounter site resulting in killing of one civilian and injuries to several others.
Interestingly, an estimated number of near 200 militants are active in Kashmir, of which in North Kashmir areas the presence of foreign militants was much higher than the local militants while as the trend was reverse in South Kashmir.
Security officials said that while 100 militants are active in South Kashmir, comprising mostly the locals, an equal number was also active in the North Kashmir areas, preferable in frontier district of Kupwara.
The South Kashmir areas of Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantang have seen a spurt in the protests and the student protests have thrown up an additional challenge for the government forces.
Local residents said that it has become a common scene that the students of the Mehjoor Memorial Higher Secondary, Pulwama Degree College and Newa Higher secondary pour out on the roads and start protests.
The student protests have also got stronger in areas of Anantang. A local resident of Mattan, Anantang, Muzafar Ahmad Bhat, said that on Saturday as soon as the news of the killing of Sabzar Ahmad and his associate spread, local boys and girls started protest march at the Mattan higher secondary.
He said that the students raised pro-freedom protests, which was retailed with the forces firing tear gas shells into the institute in which one boy received injuries in his head and is in a critical state.
Senior Army officials said that the militants are however also short of weapons and they are snatching away the arms of the forces to join militancy. “There is a sort of loyalty test which the militants have kept. The new recruits are inducted into the militant ranks only after they snatch away the weapons. In South Kashmir the forest range provides the training ground,’’ he said.
According to police officials more disturbing was the youth joining militancy due to the increasing use of social networking sites. State government had earlier launched a crackdown on the use of networking sites including the Whatssapp groups by detaining many people in South Kashmir after it found some Whatssapp groups were used to galvanise support for militancy.
“The situation may not have been as difficult as it was in 2016, but for the conditions to deteriorate even the killing of one militant can make the situation worse,” said an official.
Director General of Police, S P Vaid, said that the police have taken many steps to ensure that the situation doesn’t deteriorate. He said that the security was being beefed up as per the requirements.