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Are rules only for the Army? The deathly silence on stone pelters targeting innocents

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The stone pelters of Kashmir have gone haywire. Their latest targets are the innocents. A tourist from Chennai became the latest victim of stone pelting. A school bus was attacked recently in which innocent children were targeted.

Are rules only for the Army? The deathly silence on stone pelters targeting innocents

This has raised a serious question in security circles, whether the decision to grant amnesty to first time stone pelters was a right one. It has clearly not had the right effect and advantage is being taken of the amnesty argued one security official in Jammu and Kashmir.

It looks like a well-oiled network in Kashmir today. One one hand the recruitments into terror groups has shot up and on the other hand, the stone pelters have gone haywire. The security agencies are in a tough spot of bother as on one hand they are dealing with the terrorists and on the other the stone pelters.

The silence of the Hurriyat is a classic example of what their intentions are. There has been no condemnation from their side on these latest incidents on stone pelting. It was their narrative that the stone pelters were innocent youth. The government had given in and ordered amnesty to first time stone pelters. As the security agencies tried to control the stone pelters, another narrative to stop the use of pellet guns came up.

Now stone pelters in Kashmir kill a tourist from Chennai

An officer informed OneIndia that rules are meant to apply only for the security forces. There is widespread condemnation in the media when a stone pelter is hit by a pellet. There is a ruckus if cases are filed. Just see how silent a section of the media and the Hurriyat is when innocents are targeted and there is a surge in recruitments, the officer added.

On the recruitment front too, there has been a surge. Statistics available with us shows that at least 45 youth have joined terror groups this year till mid-April. According to the top brass of the security establishment in the state, Shopian and Kulgam in south Kashmir have emerged as a major hub by respectively accounting for 12 and 9 of the 45 youths.

The other areas of south Kashmir which have witnessed youths taking to terrorism are Anantnag (seven), Pulwama (four) and Awantipura (three). Moreover, unconfirmed reports, which were in the process of verification, suggest that three more from Pulwama had joined terror groups, officials said.

Similarly, in north Kashmir, one youth from Handwara, two from Kupwara, one each from Bandipora and Sopore and one from Srinagar have disappeared in the recent past and are suspected to have joined terror organisations, they said.

This includes Junaid Ashraf Sehrai, 26, an MBA degree holder from Kashmir university, and son of Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, who took over as chairman of Tehrek-e-Hurriyat from Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Teherik-e-Hurriyat is a pro-Pakistan amalgam of separatists groups.

The list also includes a 26-year-old PhD scholar Mannan Bashir Wani hailing from Kupwara, officials said. Wani was studying in the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

According to officials, every funeral of a terrorist spawns at least two additions to the ranks of terror groups.

"It has become a bottom less pit. We engage, counter, eliminate or make them surrender and the very next day, social media gives us proof of birth of another militant. This vicious cycle needs to be broken," said a senior army official who is engaged in anti-terror operations.

Ruling party politicians from south Kashmir have reportedly abandoned their ancestral homes and housed themselves in well-fortified accomodations in Srinagar or Jammu. Efforts to seek their comments on the situation in their constituencies did not yield any result as they were reluctant to be drawn into any debate related to it.

J&K: Stone-pelters attack school bus in Shopian, 2 kids hurt

A senior politician, who did not wish to be named, said: "Never has this situation arisen when space for mainstream politicians has shrunk to this extent. It is a scary situation".

Security agencies believe that in April there has seen a conspicuous rise in the number of locals joining various terror groups after 13 local terrorists were killed in encounters with security forces in Shopian and Anantnag.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been quite vocal about PDP-BJP government's alleged failure in checking the rising trend of youths joining terrorism.

"Mehbooba Mufti's biggest and least talked about failure has been the massive jump in the numbers of young Kashmiri men joining the ranks of militant organisations," he had tweeted earlier.

On more and more locals joining terror groups, he had said, "...Is no one in a position of power in Delhi alarmed by this because I certainly am!"

Police has approached many parents requesting them to ask their children to surrender on the assurance of a normal life. The story remains unchanged, says a senior police official, who adds that many a times parents express their helplessness.

Appeals have been made by Mehbooba Mufti as well as state police chief SP Vaid and senior army officers but in vain.

"We cannot keep a finger on any particular reason for the spurt in number of youth joining militancy. However, It could be growing influence of pan-Islamisation and religious indoctrination in which unemployment emerges as a catalyst for a quick reaction to pick up a gun," says a senior security official.

The first four months of 2018 has already witnessed 100 deaths, including 55 terrorists, 20 security personnel and 25 civilians. Of the 55 terrorists killed, 27 were locals whereas the rest were described as foreigners by security agencies in the press handouts issued post-encounters.

In 2017, a total of 126 youths had picked up guns. It was the highest number since 2010, according to a recent data presented in the state assembly and Parliament.

There has been a steady rise in the number of youth taking up arms in the Valley since 2014 onwards as compared to 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In 2010, 54 youths had joined terror groups while in 2011, the number came down to 23 and further dipped to 21 in 2012 and 6 in 2013. In 2014, the number shot up to 53 and in 2015, it reached 66 before touching the highest mark of 88 in 2016, the data showed.

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