New-look militancy


Militancy in Kashmir is acquiring a new face. It is attracting well-educated and qualified young boys. In early 90s when militancy erupted in Kashmir, India’s national newspaper the Pioneer, in one of its articles (perhaps written by Mohan Guruswami), described it as a battle between haves and have-nots. He qualified militants as a people from downtrodden classes—Hamid Shaikh son of a cobbler, Yasin Malik son of driver, Ahsan Dar, a private school teacher, MushtaqZargar, an illiterate copper dealer, Javed Mir, a daily wage earner. The writer put all his efforts in convincing his readers that the uprising has roots more in economy than in politics. Though this was a flawed presentation of the whole case but the poor economic background of most the militant leaders had convinced a section of self-professed intellectuals that robust economic measures could win back the rebellion Kashmiri youth. The later days however demolished this myth with hundreds of well-educated young boys including doctors and engineers joining militant ranks. Tahir Mahmood, who formed Allah Tigers and later joined HizbulMujahideen was an engineer by profession. FirdousKirmani and Mohammad Usman, two other senior commanders of the Hizb too were engineers. Nadeem Khateeb, son of a chief engineer, was a pilot, who had got training in Flight Training school in Georgia city of United States. There were hundreds other highly qualified young boys who chose the path of militancy. Despite the decline in militancy over the past 10 years, the slogan of ‘azadi’ is still like a holy verse with the young educated Kashmiri youth. There is a strong belief in them that it is unethical not to resist the injustice that is being done to the Kashmiris. One could see their anger and rage when they dared bullets of state forces in three consecutive summers—2008, 09, 10 and 2016. This is an undisputable fact that the discontent among Kashmir youth is ever-increasing. Keen observers have betimes warned that it could explode any time. The powers-that-be might be having a sense of complacency that with extreme pressure, bullying and bulldozing by the police and security forces, the street demonstration of this ire and anger has been stifled. But it should now serve them as warning that this anger is finding a new way to explode. They are again leaning towards the gun. What must be more disturbing is that highly qualified and educated youth are keen to take to arms. AS late as November 3, AtimaadFayaz, a resident of Shopian’sAmchipora hamlet, joined HizbulMujahideen, Hewas pursuing his M.Phil. in Urdu when he left his home and university to join militant ranks. Sabzar Ahmad Bhat was pursuing Ph.D. in Botany when he joined HizbulMujahideen last year. Umar Ganai, a science student at Islamic University of Science and Technology, Awantipora and and an engineering student EisaFazili of Baba Ghulam Shah University Rajouri are among dozens other well-educated young Kashmiris who joined militant ranks. While Umar joined in November, last year and Fazili in August this year. Security forces, in May this year, launched “Operation All-Out” to wipe out militancy, and as many as 190 militants, majority of them locals, have been killed since then. However, this did not deter the youth from joining militancy. Police data suggest that around 10 local youth join the militant groups every month in the Valley. And more recently, many of them are educated youngsters from affluent families. Last month a serving police man Ashfaq Ahmad Dar left his job to join Lashkar-e-Toiba. There are reports that six highly educated from north Kashmir have more recently joined militant ranks during past one month, a trend that must be genuinely a cause of concern. Since militancy in Kashmir, unlike early stage, is not a showbiz now but a sly and sneaky craft, it should not be surprising if one finds more and more educated youth involved in it.