Kashmiris join insurgency against India at highest rate in two decades

Indian army records show that at least 70 young Kashmiris joined the insurgency in the last year


Reuters February 24, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

SRINAGAR: An insurgency in the Indian-held region of Kashmir is increasingly dependent on homegrown, educated fighters with the highest number of local youth joining in two decades, according to Indian army data seen on Tuesday.

The trend represents a new threat in the region where Muslim separatists have been fighting Indian forces since 1989. At least 70 young Kashmiris joined the insurgency in the last year, army records showed, with most joining the banned group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was accused of carrying out attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008.

At least 14 of them have been killed, the army said. “Youth joining the militancy is disturbing,” Subrata Saha, the head of Indian army in Kashmir, said recently.  “If educated youth are joining, it is more disturbing. It is certainly is a cause of concern for us.”

Two of the new recruits have doctorates and eight were post graduates, the army data showed. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since a war after independence from Britain in 1947. The nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the territory.

India accuses Pakistan of training and arming the rebels in the portion of Kashmir it controls and sending them to the Indian side. Pakistan denies that. For years militant groups had struggled to recruit fighters from Indian Kashmir, forcing them to rely on Pakistan-based fighters, the officer said.

To maintain control, the Indian army has a massive military presence in its northernmost and only Muslim-majority state famed for its snow-capped mountains and fertile valleys.

The trend of homegrown fighters joining the militancy started in 2010 after a summer of unrest when 112 people were killed in clashes between police and protesters, according to a senior army officer. The decade before that had seen a lull in militancy, and numbers are still low compared with the 1990s.

With the Indian army stepping up patrols on the border fewer Pakistani fighters have been able to cross in, forcing militant groups to recruit local youth, the officer said.

COMMENTS (33)

Jatin | 6 years ago | Reply @Rakesh: The problem with Kashmir is that all the parties have some sort of a bad intention. If you look at it from a larger perspective. Nobody is ready to see the elephant in the room. Kashmir is not merely a land or a political issue. It is a Religious issue. There are people in the valley who believe in Jinnah's TNT. They believe that Muslims cannot stay with India (read Hindus) but at the same time they want 100% of the state land, that is the problem. Pakistani polity has only used Kashmir to gain emotional support of the normal people. Pak Army/Ind Army wants more arms contracts so they can eat more money out of it, so they keep the pot boiling. Indian politicians think that if they give even an inch of Kashmir, they will never come back to power. I don't see any problem in dividing the state on the basis of religion. That was done in 1947 and thanks to Jinnah I feel we are far more safe and secure in both the countries or else mega scale riots must be happening across the sub continent at a much larger and deeper level. From India's perspective if you listen to any of Hafeez saeed's speeches they are not asking only Kashmir they want to convert India into a Muslim state so Kashmir acts as a barrier, It takes all the firing and saves the rest of India from the crusade. Secular India has to accept that Partition happened and our forefathers agreed for it and if you don't want another partition, Please complete the partition and settle all Muslims in Pakistan and all Hindus in India with respect.
Jag Nathan | 6 years ago | Reply It does not matter how many thousands more join. India has a 1.25 billion population. In that population the Kashmiri numbers are a drop in the bucket. India has seen much larger protests and lived to see the next day. We welcome all these idiots to waste their time protesting.
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