According to data available, 39 Kashmiri youth have joined terror groups till May 31

Despite intelligence inputs of a "hot summer" in Kashmir Valley, there is a sharp decline in local recruitment in terror groups in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to data available, 39 Kashmiri youth have joined terror groups till May 31. The number is marginally less in comparison to last year's recruits for the same period. There were 85 local recruits for terror groups last year.

"There is a significant decline in local recruitment compared to last year. We have adopted many measures including counselling of many youths, dissuading them from joining terror ranks," IG Kashmir Vijay Kumar told India Today.

Despite the lower number of recruits this year, the security grid is worried about the new recruits -- who with little or no weapons training -- may pose a terror threat in the Kashmir valley.

There are rare times when militants surrender or get arrested.

On Saturday morning, two unidentified terrorists were killed by security forces in Nipora, Kulgam. One of them was a three-day-old recruit of a terror group.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police released a video where announcements were made on loudspeakers on Saturday giving them an opportunity for the duo to surrender. However, they refused to do surrender and opened fire at the security forces. They were later gunned down by security forces in an encounter.

In another incident, a grief-stricken family in Shopian made an appeal to a 17-year-old militant to return home. The family said he is a teenager with health problems and his parents are old.

This is similar to Operation "Maa" (mother) launched by Kashmir-based XV Army Corps Lieutenant General KS Dhillon in 2019 that saw around 50 Kashmiri youths return to normal life after abandoning the terror groups they had joined.

Part of the Jammu and Kashmir strategy is to ensure lesser collateral damage to civilian homes. The security forces are for the first time mulling over the use of NSG starting with urban areas as they specialise in room intervention.

"Another important strategy is to engage with the youth. If parents tell us of their child's inclination to join terror ranks, we do counselling. At least 12 youths have been prevented from joining terror ranks," IG Kashmir Vijay Kumar said.

The biggest turnaround, however, is J&K security grid's new policy where they have denied returning bodies of the terrorists to families. This step has been taken to prevent public funerals of top commanders of terror outfits.

The public funeral of terrorists has been denied as this may lead to thousands of people gathering at the event which may be amplified on social media leading to a spurt in recruitment.

There are designated burial points in Seeri in Baramulla district or Sonamarg in Ganderbal district for the terrorists killed during an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir. Only three-four family members are now allowed to attend the funeral while security forces do not reveal the identity of such terrorists.

Some of the other factors cited in keeping recruitment low are internet blockade in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 last year with some relaxation coming on 2G mobile data network during harsh winters.

The countrywide lockdown on account of Covid-19 pandemic is also one of the factors for low recruitment of militants.