In 2020, militant recruitment in J-K second-highest in the decade

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In 2020, from January to the first week of November, 191 militants, including twenty foreigners, were killed in operations by the government forces in Jammu and Kashmir while as 145 youth signed up for militancy in the same time frame, reported News18.

It is also the second-highest militant spike in the last decade. The year 2018 saw the highest number of militants killed in the decade: 254 in 107 gunfights while 210 militants were recruited, according to the report.

Also, in 2020, five to eight missing youth may have joined militancy, though more than fifty others were arrested, and surrendered before the police, added the report, quoting unidentified officials. The officials say there are reports of marginal recruitments from Chenab and Pir Panjal valleys.

In 2019, 157 militants were killed in 79 gunfights and 127 youth inducted into militancy. In 2017, a year after militant commander Burhan Wani was killed, 192 militants were killed in 83 gunfights and 139 new recruits joined back.

Describing militancy in Jammu and Kashmir as a zero-sum game, an unidentified top anti-militancy hand told News 18 that this is a marginal drop in the overall number of militant operatives on the ground. “What matters is not the headcount, but quality of training, arms you carry, communication gadgets and back-end logistics,” he said.

“A gap of forty to fifty operatives this year will not change the complexion of militancy. One push and it will get even,” an officer warned. “Moreover, we cannot tell with certainty how many infiltrate from the across the borders and Line of Control. So the numbers remain more or less static, around 200. This is true of last many years.”

Since 2019, the government has taken some measures that it claims would have helped in bringing down militancy recruitment, including banning militant funerals and internet speed.

“There was an impression that recruitment would fall considerably if funeral gatherings are stopped. Seems it had no impact,” an officer told News 18, adding that not returning bodies to families must have riled the youth who continue to feed militant numbers. “We don’t rule that out but cannot arrive at any number.”

“The slow internet could be an issue but it seems new recruits are not keen on announcing their induction into militancy. The Jaish and Lashkar operatives usually refrain from doing so. Maybe the new trend is not to show up and be discreet,” an official said.

Officials told News 18 that the militancy in south Kashmir is driven by young local recruits mostly belonging to Hizbul Mujahiden, though of late, Jaish and Lashkar, too, have started to find recruits.

They say this year, too, the Hizb suffered a lot of damage. Of the 190 militants killed, eighty were recruits from 2020 and a half came from the largest homegrown outfit. The Hizb, officials noted, is crunched for rifles and ammunition, while both LeT and JeM and other fronts like Al-Badr, The Resistance Front, and People’s Anti Fascist Front (PAFF) are well placed.

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