The year 2020 saw a significant spike in local recruitment in militant ranks in Kashmir, which security officials said could be a result of the “backlog” triggered by the communication blackout in Jammu and Kashmir due to the scrapping of Article 370 in 2019.
According to police data, accessed by ThePrint, last year saw the second-highest recruitment of Kashmiri youth in the past decade, with Pulwama topping the list of places from where maximum youths have joined insurgent outfits. The year 2018 saw the highest number.
Former security establishment officials said the rise in recruitment was also due to ‘Pakistan’s project’ and a sense of alienation among the youth. The data showed that 167 youths from Kashmir joined militant groups last year. It also stated that 225 militants — 203 from Kashmir — were killed across Jammu and Kashmir in 2020.
As many as 50 youths from Pulwama — where the deadly suicide bombing had taken place in February 2019 — joined militant groups last year, followed by Shopian (41) and Kulgam (30).
The data also showed that even as southern Kashmir continues to be a hotbed of militancy, insurgent groups have been able to make inroads across the Valley, with militant recruitment reported from districts like Budgam, Baramulla and Srinagar too.
Security establishment officials expect an escalation of law and order situation in the wake of rising militant recruitment even after the killings of Hizbul Mujahideen commanders Riyaz Naikoo and Saifullah Mir last year.
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