Contrary to the Army’s claims that South Kashmir will be soon militant-free, as a consequence of Operation All Out started in the summer of 2016, figures indicate more militants are now stationed in the region than when the offensive was launched.

In the year 2018, at least 45 youths, some of them with degrees like MBA and Ph. D, have joined the militant ranks. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has been pleading with the Centre for a dialogue with separatists and to call off the Operation All Out in South Kashmir.

There are reports of more boys joining the militant ranks than the figures being provided by police. “We can only confirm those youths joining militant ranks about whom we have complete proof. There are many missing reports about youths in many villages. We can only confirm their joining militancy when we have concluded our investigation,” a senior police officer in South Kashmir told this newspaper.

Even after the police tried to give full protection and assurances to the parents that their wards, if they surrendered arms, will be given complete amnesty, very few have surrendered. Mehbooba Mufti along with DGP S.P. Vaid has been appealing again and again to the youth to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream. “In the absence of any dialogue and any change in the ground realities, more and more youths will join militancy in frustration. The Central government will have to intervene at the highest level to reverse the trend,” said Altaf Bukhari, state Cabinet minister.