Srinagar: While the number of active militants has sharply gone up in the Valley, police claim they have managed to bring back 34 youth from militancy to “normal life”.
“We have brought back home 34 youth who went to join militancy,” Director General of Police SP Vaid told Kashmir Reader. “We have persuaded them to return so that they can join normal life,” he said.
Vaid said that policemen have been advised to be “citizen friendly”. “Our men on the ground are following these instructions. That is the reason why the boys who went astray have returned,” he said. “But this does not mean we will tolerate criminals (militants) and their criminal activities. We won’t do that at any cost.”
The DGP said that police have been counselling stone-pelters, militants, and their families to not fall prey to “propaganda”. Police identified children and youth who were vulnerable and counselled them and their parents to not be lured by “elements inimical to peace,” Vaid said.
Police had earlier said that their counselling efforts in all districts of Kashmir had produced encouraging results. On Thursday, police said that a 19-year-old Srinagar youth, Tufail Qadeer Mir, who appeared in a photograph wearing army fatigues and cradling an AK-47, had returned home. The father of Tufail, Abdul Qadeer Mir, however said that his son was not with his family yet. “He has returned,” Qadeer confirmed. “The police had verbally informed us about Tufail. But he is still with them (police),” he said.
A senior police officer with experience in counterinsurgency operations, however, said that there was no such procedure in the police force to counsel militants and bring them “back to normal life”.
“We get indicators from militants who want to return. It can be either through families or through conduits,” the officer said. “When a person joins militancy, he finds that life out there is not so easy. Militants who wish to return either could not cope with the tough life, or they fell ill, or they had a fight with other members. There are multiple factors responsible for their return.”
The police officer said that the new generation of militants, most of whom are Kashmiris, have put certain conditions for new recruits. “Till a couple of years ago, if a person wanted to join militancy, he had to bring a weapon along with him. He had to snatch a weapon to prove that he was not a mole,” the officer said. “Now, before being inducted into militant ranks, the recruit is being asked to release his picture in which he is carrying a gun on social media, or to circulate such a picture through other means. By doing so, the militants ensure that the newcomer has no escape route. It also enhances the credibility of the newcomer in the eyes of the militants.”
More than 100 youngsters have joined militant ranks after the killing of Burhan Wani last year. According to latest police records, there are 282 militants in Kashmir, of which 112, mostly locals, are based in south Kashmir.