Force Magazine

Angry Young Men

Youth braving bullets to thwart security operations against militants is a new challenge

Fayaz Bukhari

A massive crackdown by security forces in Kashmir this year has led to major success but outpourings of sympathy for the militants have escalated, with stone-throwing crowds gathering at the site of gun battles to thwart efforts to kill or capture the gunmen.

According to statistics, militancy in Kashmir suffered major setback this year. Fifty-two militants were killed by security forces in various operations in the Kashmir valley in last five months and now the crackdown against them has been intensified. This included chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit, Saifullah, who was trying to carry out a fidayeen attack in Srinagar.

Angry Young Men
Kashmiri youth waves various flags to provoke and protest the Indian forces

The success comes at a time when the militancy incidents over the years have declined. The militancy related fatalities in Kashmir which were 2000 per year between 1993 to 2003, are now down to 117 in 2012, 181 in 2013, 193 in 2014 and 174 in 2015.

No doubt security forces have managed to keep militants on their toes and prevented their strikes but of late a major worrying trend has set in. The public support for these militants seems to have increased as huge numbers of people turn out at funerals of militants who are killed in recent encounters.

This trend started last year in Kashmir valley and is growing. As the crowds at funerals indicate, militants are emerging as heroes again and worryingly for security establishment, Pakistani militants operating in the Valley, too, are gaining popularity.

In late October last year, when Abu Qasim, a Pakistani militant commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was killed in South Kashmir, three districts shut down to protest his killing. As per estimates, around 30,000 people attended his funeral and residents of Kakapora, Khandaypora and Bugam villages even fought for the honour of burying his body in their villages.

After Qasim’s funeral, the police have now stopped handing over the bodies of foreign militants to locals for burial to prevent hero-worshipping. The bodies are now being secretly buried in remote border areas by the police. Earlier, the police used to hand over bodies of these foreigners to locals for burial, who did the job quietly.

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