New Delhi: Security forces and intelligence officials have sounded alarm bells on the rising cases of home-grown militancy in the valley, even as the Indian Army has beefed up its anti-infiltration grid across the Line of Control (LoC).
Close to 280 militants are currently holed up in the valley, “almost 60% of them home-grown from the areas of Shopian and Pulwama", according to security force personnel serving in Kashmir.
“Because the Indian Army has beefed up the anti-infiltration network across the LoC, Pakistan cannot send in its militants. However, even though the home-grown Kashmiri militants are keeping the fire burning in the valley, Pakistan does not fully trust them because of which it is still trying to keep the smaller Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba camps alive in Kashmir," said a senior intelligence official, seeking anonymity.
This phenomenon of home-grown militancy grew in momentum in the days following Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani’s death in July 2016, the official quoted above said.
“Burhan Wani’s killing changed the discourse in Kashmir. Kashmiri youth started vociferously taking to ‘jihaad’. They started joining camps that would train them in one week and send them for operations against security forces, where they would obviously get killed. These home-grown militants are also responsible for the increased cases of weapon snatching in the Valley," the official said.
Defence experts also asserted that even as arms and ammunition continue to be in short supply for militants in the valley, India would have reason to worry if the number of home-grown militants goes beyond 500.
“As far as Pakistan is concerned, from 1990-96, the Kashmiri youth went across, got trained and came back. Then Pakistan started pumping in terrorists and the ratio of Pakistan to Kashmiri fighters was 60:40. When the first ceasefire took place and better counter infiltration measures were put in place, the number of Pakistani terrorists reduced and Kashmiri terrorists increased as they are indigenous. But 250 is still a manageable number," said Lt. Gen (retd) H.S. Panag, a former Indian Army official and defence expert.