After the announcement of the Ramzan cease fire in Jammu &Kashmir, the number of youth joining militant outfits has fallen. 13 Kashmiri youth joined militancy since the announcement of the truce. Among them, 2 have already returned back to their families. Before the truce, the number was quite high at 71 in the period before May this year, according to sources.

Sources have said that out of the 13 local Kashmiri youth who reportedly joined militancy during the period of postponement of security force operations in Jammu & Kashmir, only one got engaged into the indigenous outfit Hizbul Mujahideen. Additionally, there were four youth who joint Al-Badr – the militant outfit that is lately exhibiting some signs of revival in the state. The rest of the youth have reportedly joined either Jaish-e Mohammad or Lashkar-e-Taiba.

During the suspension of operations in Ramzan, there has interestingly been a reduction of violence in the valley. The pause in cordon-and-search operations has seen a significant decline in killings of citizens and security forces as well as mob attacks including stone-pelting. Since May 17 only three civilians and security staff each have been killed. The lower casualties are being seen as an indicator of success of the truce.

During the Ramzan month, what was remarkable was the increase in grenade attacks. Most of the grenades which were thrown on the security forces during this period were apparently done by local, inexpert youth who were being commanded by elements keen on damaging the truce.

A functionary of the central security establishment said: “we are yet to identify the terrorists or agencies who are outsourcing these grenade attacks. However, grenade attacks should not be seen as a result of regrouping of militants as, in such a case, they should be launching attacks themselves.”

After the beginning of Ramzan, only few stone pelting incidents were reported and only two incidents involved major mob attacks and which took place on second and third Friday of the fasting month. It was interesting that all these incidents were made by the ‘outsiders’ who gathered at Jamia mosque and local people were not involved, sources have told the media.

An officer said “these outsiders were affiliated to ultra-radical leader Zakir Musa. After they created ruckus on May 25, Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was advised to segregate the outsiders’ group prior to Friday prayers. Kept from joining locals inside the mosque on June 1, the ‘outsiders’ moved to Nowhatta, where they spotted a CRPF vehicle. They tried to come in its path and two civilians got run over in the process. The fourth Friday of Ramzan on June 8 was largely peaceful, just like the first.”

Sources further pointed out that “schools and colleges resumed normal functioning during the suspension of operations. Political representatives are visiting their respective areas without being heckled or threatened by militants.”

In the context of recent incidents, the officer explained that just one measure cannot be sufficient for attaining complete peace in areas which are disturbed.

“Some violent incidents will happen and must be tolerated. In fact, violence levels had risen during the 2000 ceasefire.”

The fall in the number of Kashmiri youths joining militancy is good news for the Centre and the J&K government will review the suspension of operations in the state within the next few days to take a call on its extension beyond Ramzan. The suspension may be extended unless any major attack done by terrorists through Pakistan, sources said.

(Adapted from TheTimesofIndia.com)