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Peace on Ground

06:04 AM Oct 25, 2023 IST | SHABIR IBN YUSUF
peace on ground
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Something has been really achieved after over three decades. This year only 10 Kashmiri youth have joined terror ranks and six among them have been killed-while four others have the option to surrender or – get killed.

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This is the lowest ever number of locals joining terror ranks in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990 when Pakistan-backed terrorism erupted in the region.

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In contrast during previous year 110 youth have joined different terrorists outfits in Kashmir. Most of them were killed by security forces during encounters.

“I’m so happy that youth of Kashmir has understood tricks and conspiracies of the enemy. From 110 youth who joined terrorism last year, only 10 have joined terror ranks this year,” said Dilbag Singh, Director General of J&K police during a press conference recently adding that out of 10 local terrorists, six have already been killed.

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“I wish even these 10 had not gone to the other side. It would been so nice and we would have told the world that all the youth of J&K are on the side of peace,” he added.

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The police chief said that four other local men moving around with weapons may also be killed in coming days. He asked the four terrorists to surrender, adding the doors of “ghar wapsi” are open for them.

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The dramatic drop in recruitment of local men in terrorist ranks is the biggest achievement after three decades of fight against militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

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The last best security scenario Kashmir had witnessed was in 2013 when total number of terrorists had come down to a few dozen and casualties of civilians and security forces was at an all-time low.

But things changed after 2014 and recruitment of locals joining terrorist ranks was increasing by every year.

After Article 370 was scrapped in 2019, a massive crackdown was launched against separatists and their support structure. While it demolished separatist structure, recruitment of locals as terrorists remained a challenge.

In 2019, 119 locals joined terrorism in Kashmir. In 2020 the number jumped to 167. It was 128 in 2021 and 110 in 2022.

Since 2019, number of security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir has surpassed all the previous records. It has ensured end of stone throwing and pro-separatist protests and shutdowns in the Valley.

There have been many reasons that drove the young one’s to terrorism in recent past. We can say that economic difficulties and a lack of opportunities was one among the reasons that made youth vulnerable to recruitment.

Terrorist groups exploited this vulnerability by offering financial incentives and support to both the individuals and their families. Some individuals were motivated by extremist ideologies or religious beliefs, which they believe justify their involvement in terrorism.

While looking at some cases of recruitment investigated by J&K Police, it had often occurs through personal connections, like friends who are already involved in terror activities. These networks have play a significant role in influencing and recruiting young individuals.

Terrorist organizations and their sympathizers have also used propaganda, social media, and online platforms to indoctrinate and recruit young people. These platforms made it easier for extremist groups to reach and influence susceptible individuals.

But at the same time, efforts to counter the recruitment of youth into terrorism in Kashmir have included a combination of military and counter-terrorism operations, intelligence efforts, and community engagement initiatives.

Moreover, programs to rehabilitate and reintegrate individuals who have been radicalized have been developed in an attempt to steer youth away from terrorism.

The approach to countering youth recruitment into terrorism should involve a combination of security measures, political dialogue, economic development, and community outreach to provide young people with alternatives to terrorism.

LIVES LOST

Terrorism has had a devastating impact on the youth of Kashmir. The conflict in the region, driven by terrorism, insurgency, and counter-terrorism operations, has led to significant social, economic, and psychological consequences for the youth population.

The young people in Kashmir have lost their lives due to acts of terrorism, either as direct victims or as collateral damage. This has left families and communities grieving and traumatized.

The constant threat of terrorist violence is having a profound psychological impact on young people. Many experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The terrorists violence and unrest had often led to disruption the education system, preventing young people from receiving a proper education. This disruption can have long-term consequences on their future opportunities and career prospects

It has also disrupted economic activities , leading to high unemployment rates. Young people often struggle to find stable employment, leaving them economically vulnerable.

The young people are vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment by terror groups due to a sense of frustration, alienation, or a perception of injustice.

Since 2019 efforts have been made to address these challenges, including providing counselling and mental health support to traumatized youth, promoting education. Additionally, various civil society organizations and government initiatives aim to support and rehabilitate young people affected by the conflict.

CONCLUSION:

The youth can play a vital role in promoting peace and stability in Kashmir. Their active involvement and engagement in various aspects of society can contribute for a more peaceful environment.

Young people can encourage and engage in open and constructive dialogues that bring different communities and stakeholders together to discuss grievances, aspirations, and potential solutions. This dialogue can help build trust and bridges between communities.

Youth can actively advocate for peaceful solutions to the problems faced by the masses. They can use their voices, both online and offline, to raise awareness about the consequences of violence and the importance of peaceful coexistence.

Young people can promote education and awareness about the history, culture, and diversity of the region. This can help reduce misunderstandings and prejudices and foster a more inclusive and tolerant society.

Engaging in community development projects, such as infrastructure improvement, educational programs, and healthcare initiatives, can help address some of the socio-economic issues that contribute to the terror.

It’s important to recognize that the youth in Kashmir, like youth everywhere, have a stake in their region’s future, and their perspectives and energy can be harnessed to build a more peaceful and prosperous Kashmir. However, their efforts should be supported and encouraged by governments, civil society organizations, and the international community.

Peace in Kashmir will ultimately require a comprehensive approach that addresses political, social, and economic factors, along with the active involvement of all segments of society, including the youth.

(The author is senior staffer Greater Kashmir)

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