With 82 youths picking up the gun in the Kashmir valley in the first six months of this year as compared to 128 for the entire year in 2017, alarm bells have started ringing in the security establishment. The figure this year may cross the 100 mark in the coming days amid apprehension that it will add muscle to terrorist organisations. The security forces are redrawing their strategy to contain expected hike in the levels of violence.

There are already 250 terrorists operating in the Kashmir valley and new entrants will enable the terror groups to hit high value targets like vital installations, politicians and security camps. While the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) has attracted the most number of gullible youths, co-ordination between Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) may also see some of the new entrants joining these outfits to carry on the so-called ‘jihad’.

Elaborating upon the “alarming” rise in the number of youths, including university graduates, joining the terror ranks, officials said on Tuesday that till June-end 82 of them had joined terror ranks. Giving the break-up of figures for the last three months as an example, they said at least 25 youths jumped the fence in April, 10-14 in May and 20 in June.

As reported in The Pioneer earlier this week, radicalisation and burials of terrorists killed in encounters were the two main reasons for the rise in the numbers of new entrants. Explaining the issue of burials, sources said 13 terrorists were killed on April 1 this year and their burial was attended by large numbers. Swayed by emotions, scores of gullible youth picked up the gun, they said, adding most of the recruitment took place in Shopian and Pulwama districts of restive South Kashmir. At least 20 cases each were reported from the two districts in the last few weeks.

These issues were flagged during the review meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Srinagar last week. The high level meeting was attended by Governor NN Vohra, National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and top officials of Jammu & Kashmir police, para-military forces and the Army.

Explaining the seriousness of this phenomenon, officials said here out of 101 terrorists killed in the first six months, 27 were foreign terrorists while rest were locals. Out of these, most of the killed were new recruits who had joined terror groups only two or three months back and not well-trained to take on the security forces. Sources also said the average lifespan of these new recruits was not more than five to six months.