New Delhi: Security forces, experts and intelligence units in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) said the situation in the valley was deteriorating after Mohammad Rafi Bhat, an assistant professor at Kashmir University, was among Hizbul Mujahideen militants gunned down in Shopian district, and stone-pelters near Srinagar killed a 22-year-old tourist from Chennai.
“Militancy has nothing do with the extent of education. Bhat’s killing is only a glimpse into what the real picture is. Several techies have quit their jobs in the metros have joined the militant ranks because new recruits are being indoctrinated in the concept of jihad. In some classrooms and madrasas, the students are taught the ‘importance’ of pelting stones to aid militants," said an intelligence official, requesting anonymity.
The Union home ministry recorded 1,261 cases of stone pelting in J&K in 2017. With chief minister Mehbooba Mufti letting off 4,500 first time stone-pelters in November 2017, security forces serving in Kashmir have hit out at the state government, blaming it for abetting the actions of a group that was responsible for the death of R. Thirumani, a tourist from Chennai on Monday morning.
“It was a terrible mistake to have let 4,500 stone-pelters be pardoned. We are doing our duty everyday at the Line of Control (LC) as well inland. But when stone-pelters break the cordon and aid militants, we will take action and there is total policy paralysis, which is why stone pelting is not stopping either," said a senior security force official, who did not want be identified.
While Bhat’s defection to militancy makes it the second case after an Indian army soldier allegedly joined the Hizbul Mujahideen last month, experts conclude that the increasing spate of intellectuals joining militancy and rising cases of stone pelting were linked to rising discontent in Kashmir.
“The larger political environment in the state is that of negativity and hopelessness. Talks, by way of government-appointed interlocutors, have had no effect. The cases of radicalization are frightening and the state is failing to stop radicalization of youth. Military level talks don’t stop the youth from joining militancy either. The government needs to pay attention to detail, if it hopes to stop the ongoing violence," said Gul Mohammad Wani, professor of political science at Kashmir University.
Mufti has called an all party meeting of political parties on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the Kashmir valley. “Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is convening an all party meeting in Srinagar tomorrow to discuss the prevailing situation with political parties across the board," an official spokesperson said.
PTI contributed to this story.