Indian Army concerned over local Kashmiri youth joining terror groups

Sunday, 19 July,Jammu : Voicing concern over recruitment of educated Kashmiri youths into terror outfits, a top army commander on Sunday said eyes cannot be shut to the “tragedy” that “alienation and lack of opportunities” was driving local youngsters towards the gun and the Centre and the state government need to introspect to address these issues.

General Officer Commanding In Chief (GoC-In-C), Northern Command, Lt Gen DS Hooda also said that while incidents of ISIS flags being raised during protests in Kashmir have been witnessed, there weren’t any intelligence reports to suggest large foot-prints of the dreaded Islamic terror group in either in India or in Kashmir.

At the same time, he said that there are attempts to attract the youth by such groups through social media which is having “some impact” and steps are needed to counter it.

The Army commander said “the numbers (of new militant recruits from Kashmir) are not very high as of now but if this trend goes further I think it will be tragic for Kashmir and also a matter of concern.”

“As per our assessment, nobody has successfully infiltrated from across the border this year. That is why, it is a greater concern that you know internal recruitment is taking place. That is matter of serious concern,” Hooda told PTI in an interview.

Lt Gen Hooda was replying to questions on recruitment of educated local youths in terror outfits and the reason behind this trend which had not seen in past several years.

“What we have is that last year, the figure was somewhere 60 (operating in militants outfits in Kashmir Valley) or little more than that.

“This year the information we have is more than 30 (Kashmiri youths) have already joined (militant outfits locally),” he said.

“So as I said that the numbers are not too many, but the fact remains that it was down to single digit during two or three years. In that sense it is something that we need to look at seriously,” he said. The Army commander felt that “alienation and lack of opportunity” were the reasons for Kashmiri youths picking up gun.

“I think, one of course, there is sense of alienation. Let us not hide it or shut our eyes to it”.

“There is lack of opportunity and social media has become such a powerful medium and a tool where through people are getting engaged. They are looking towards (terror), as they have nothing to do rather pick up a gun”, the commander said.

Lt Gen Hooda said, “Frankly, it is something that we need to introspect. For us, government here and national government, the parents and society, as to what are the reasons that the youth are going into this direction and is there some way to stop this.”