Worrying trend of home-grown militancy in Kashmir. Why more and more young and educated Kashmiris are taking to militancy?


Majid Jahangir, Srinagar

The joining of large number of educated Kashmiri youth into militant ranks has started to worry both the security forces and the government in Jammu and Kashmir. The most notable growing trend is being seen in Kashmir’s south belt.

Local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen now have more significant presence in Tral area of south Kashmir than the north in the valley. The Tral area is being considered one of the most militancy affected areas of Kashmir. The recent violent activities there would corroborate this assertion.

The most wanted Hizbul Mujahidin’s militant commander for south Kashmir, Burhan Ahmad Wani(21) carries a bounty of 10 lakh on his head. Burhan’s  popularity is not confined only to his home town Tral but other areas of Kashmir too.

Burhan is being seen as a new face of militancy in Kashmir. Recently, when a group of eleven militants’  video wearing army uniforms (Pictured above) holding AK47’s and  playing with smart phones in an apple orchard went viral on social networking sites, it surprised not only the security agencies but common people too. Burhan could be also seen in that video. The security agencies, though, denied the video was shot in south Kashmir.


(Burhan, pictured above)

Many believe that using social media  and  posing in combat uniforms, holding AK 47s and smart phones  in their hands is a major shift from militants’ traditional approach since the beginning of militancy in Kashmir.

The worrying aspect for the security agencies is not only that the base has shifted from north to the south, where most of the militant activities have taken place in last one month, but also the fact that it is all home grown.

In August alone, three top local militant commanders were  killed in south Kashmir. The slayed militants had degrees in Masters in Science and other subjects, while one of them had joined militant ranks some eight months ago. Both of the dead militants were residents of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

Two months ago, when this reporter visited Burhan’s home and interviewed  his father after the killing of Burhan’s elder brother Khalid Wani, he alleged that he was killed in a fake encounter by the Indian army at a near by forest.

When asked what motivated Burhan to take to militancy, Muzafar Wani, a principal at government degree college, paused for a while, and said, ” Some five years ago, when Burhan and his brother Khalid were coming home from the market, both were beaten ruthlessly by the men of Special Operation Group(SoG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police. After reaching home he said ‘enough is enough.’ I asked them what happened? He said the SoG men beat up and humiliated them without any reason and he had decided to become a militant to fight Indian occupation.”

Burhan’s entire family is well educated. His mother Maimoona Muzaffar has a science postgraduate degree and teaches the Quran. Khalid had a postgraduate degree.

Another youth Zakir Ahmad Bhat  from south’s  Tral, who was pursuing engineering degree in Punjab left his studies midway and went missing. Six months later, people learnt about his affiliations with militants.

One of  his class mates, Ajaz Ahamd Banday (name changed) told www.jantakareporter.com, ” Zakir was my class mate for one-and-half-year.  He went missing suddenly from college. One day he told us that he was going to Himachal for some work. But he never returned. After six months, we were shocked to know that he had became a militant. Since that day I have not seen Zakir in person. Recently, I saw his photograph in an English newspaper describing him as a militant. ”

Two more young men from Tral area of south Kashmir, killed in encounters with security forces, had engineering degrees. Another class 10th student, who had secured 98 percent marks in January 2015 examinations went missing and is believed to have joined the ranks of militants active in Kashmir.

In 2013, in two separate gun-fights, the security forces had eliminated Sajid and Hiala. Sajid, a resident of Tral had a postgraduate degree in Islamic studies and was also a postgraduate student of computer science.

On March 28, 2015 Jammu and Kashmir police officer, Nisar Ahmad Pandit (30), ran away from his duty but took his weapons with him to become a militant. Pandit too is a resident of south Kashmir’s Pulwama area.

 The Army sees this trend as a serious concern. Srinagar based GoC 15 crops, Lt General Sabarta Saha recently said that about 60 young boys had joined militant ranks from the beginning of the year 2015. In an interview to a news agency on 18 July 2015 General Officer Commanding  Northern command Lt General D S Hooda 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.Even the state government last month acknowledged that young and educated  boys were joining militant ranks. The government admitted that it had thrown a major challenge to the present dispensation. However, PDP-BJP government has blamed  previous government of NC-Congress  for failing to accommodate youth, who, according to them, felt alienated.
PDP’s youth president, Waheed Parra says that young educated boys joining militant ranks is a result of Kashmir lacking vibrant mainstream platforms coupled with the history of atrocities committed by security agencies.

Talking to www.jantakareporter.com, Parra said, ” You see, this is not the first time that educated people have become militants. We’ve seen quite a number of well qualified commanders since 90s. The present trend is not alarming but worrying. Educated youth are joining militant outfits at a time when the graph of militancy had declined. I am admitting that our inability to stop these youth from joining militant groups will take us forty years back. You see, when a young and educated boy goes to any government office and he gets humiliated, his grievance is not being addressed, they look for other options, where they feel they can live with honor and dignity. ”

The police records suggest that as many as 60 militants are currently active in south Kashmir. Militants may have shifted their base to south Kashmir but have not completely abandoned their base in the north, their favourite destination since 90s. In north Kasmir alone, 69 militants including 25 foreigners are believed to be active at the moment. Militants began to migrate to the south after the top commanders of Lashkar e Toiba(LeT)  were killed in north Kashmir sometime ago.

According to police officer, even Naveed Ahmad, the Pakistani terrorist captured alive, had stayed in South Kashmir for more than two months.

National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is investigating Naveed’s case had arrested and detained more than seven people  in south Kashmir in connection with Naveed’s stay in south Kashmir and providing logistical support before attacking BSF convoy.

Should this trend continue and no corrective measures are taken to win the confidence of educated youth of Kashmir, this is bound to have serious consequences on the future narrative of Kashmir.


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