Former Jammu and Kashmir police Chief Kuldeep Khoda has warned of a “cult” being born in the state with more educated young people joining terrorism and picking up the gun becoming an “attractive and glamorous” option.
The “dimensions and dynamics” of terrorism are changing, Mr Khoda, the longest serving and the most successful police chief of the state, said in a blog.
Examining the reasons for increasing number of youths joining terrorism, he said, “When political grid is inactive, even if security grid gets results, a common man on many occasions becomes a victim of favoritism and nepotism. Frustration with the system has to find an exit route,” he said. He added that in other states, that frustration took the shape of dharnas, strikes and arson.
“But in the Valley, with terrorism now firmly entrenched for the last three decades, taking up the gun is not only a readily available option but an attractive one as well,” said Mr Khoda, who served as chief vigilance commissioner of the state before retiring last year.
The glorification of terrorism has attracted many well educated men into its ranks, he added.
“The reality is that a large number of educated youth are becoming a part of the ‘movement’ and spearheading it. A local Ph.D. scholar studying in Aligarh Muslim University, a faculty member from Kashmir University who subsequently got killed in an operation, an MBA son of a prominent separatist, are some of the examples,” he added.
“A cult has been born. Whether it will grow to assume a menacing role will largely depend on our response,” he said.
He said Kashmir has been usually associated with conflict of interests between those managing the security grid and political grid.
After the launch of Operation ‘All Out’, some important terrorist commanders were killed. A total of 213 terrorists were killed in 2017, he said.
Mr Khoda added that the achievement of the police and security forces could not be underestimated and that surgical operations happen with police help.
“But the success of operations gets diluted when dead terrorists get replaced by infiltration and fresh recruitment. Last year witnessed local terrorist recruitment of 126, the highest during the last twelve years. This year, 50 local youth joined terrorist cadres. The last year’s number is likely to get surpassed,” he warned.
Mr Khoda, who served as police chief from 2007 to 2012, said the number of terror attacks plummeted from 1,438 in 2006 to 124 in 2012. The number of security forces casualties came down to 15 (the lowest during 28 years of terrorism) from 182 during the same period.
This figure rose to 47 in 2014 and to 80 in 2017, he said.
“The killing of terrorists depicts similar pattern, 591 in 2006, 72 in 2012, 110 in 2014 and 213 in 2017. If all the three strong parameters of security situation -number of militancy incidents, security forces casualties and terrorists killed are showing an upward trend, it does not require rocket science to understand which way we are going and how our measures on dealing with the situation in Kashmir situation are delivering,” he said.
Inputs on infiltration and border firing are not encouraging either, Mr Khoda said. But more worrying was the local recruitments into terrorism, he said.
“Every terrorist’s funeral draws thousands to the venue. It is not uncommon to see gun wielding terrorists appearing at the scene and playing on the minds of youth. “Mr Khoda said. He added that the calibrated release of videos on social media projecting terrorists as messiahs and brave hearts of the community serves as a catalyst in attracting youngsters to join the ‘jihad’.