SRINAGAR: Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir is on the cusp of a transition as it has lost the “glamour” that was once associated with it, Army commander Lt Gen D P Pandey has said, adding “white collar terrorists” are now desperately trying to lure into their ranks adolescents who may not yet have the maturity to judge right from wrong.
Lt Gen Pandey, the General Officer Commanding (GoC) of Kashmir-based XV Corps, said those aged between 20 and 25 have understood that “violence leads to nowhere” and thus the number of new terror recruits is nearing an all-time low. In addition, 330 terrorists were killed or surrendered since January last year, he said.
People in general are fed up with terrorism, the Army commander said and expressed hope that the day is not far when the remaining support to terrorists in Kashmir Valley will vanish as well. He said the society has started developing some allergy towards the idea of terrorism and it is no longer glamorous to become a terrorist.
“Terrorism is on the cusp of a transition and the day is not far when the remaining support for terrorism in the valley will also vanish,” he said.
“Security forces have been working on a two-pronged strategy — bringing down the recruitment of local youths and ensuring depletion in terrorist cadres. We have been able to bring down the local recruitment by one-third during 2021,” Lt Gen Pandey said in an interview.
Sharing data of counter-terrorist operations, he said 330 terrorists have been killed or surrendered since January last year — the highest in a decade-and-a-half.
The number is significant when seen in the backdrop of falling recruitment and infiltration from across the border in the last four years. Only 142 people joined the terrorist ranks in 2021. “As many as 171 terrorists — 151 locals and 20 Pakistanis — were killed in 2021, while 45 terrorists, including 10 Pakistanis, have been eliminated till now this year. As many as 87 terrorists were apprehended or surrendered in 2021 and 27 terrorists this year,” he said.
“The killing of terrorists off late has been possible because of human intelligence…people are fed up with terrorism,” he said.
Lt Gen Pandey referred to the killing of SPO Ishfaq Ahmad and his brother Umer Jan by terrorists at Chattabugh village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on March 27 and said “a sea of people participated in their funeral procession”. The brothers were shot by terrorists near their home.
The Army commander, who is set to relinquish the post in June this year, had visited the bereaved family to express his condolences and assured the family that the security forces would soon arrest those involved in the dastardly attack.
“The massive participation of people at the funeral of the SPO and his brother is the change. It is increasing by the day and people have also been asking ‘akhir kabtak’ (how long). The voices may be few today but I am sure that it will snowball into a big movement against terrorism,” the Army officer said.
Lt Gen Pandey surprised many by visiting north Kashmir’s Sopore town — once a hotbed of terrorism — on Monday and wished citizens on Ramzan.
While interacting with people, Lt Gen Pandey mentioned that Kashmir is on the cusp of a positive change. The situation is peaceful with a marked improvement in all key security parameters — local terrorist recruitment, law and order situation and strike calls.
He prodded the youth to follow the right path leading to an upright life and inspire others to join the path of peace and progress.
Lt Gen Pandey also said that while those in the 20-25 age group have understood that “violence leads to nowhere”, “white collar terrorists” are now trying hard to lure into their ranks teenagers aged 16 to 19 years who may not yet have the maturity and clarity to judge right from wrong.
He said “white collar terrorists” are common people who do their daily business as usual but clandestinely work for terror groups and brainwash young minds.
During his visit to Sopore, the Chinar Corps commander also met with former terrorists and appealed to them to visit homes of active terrorists, speak to their parents and urge them to get their children back to the mainstream and onto the right path. “The time is not far when terrorists will be shamed by the society in Kashmir,” Lt Gen Pandey said.
He, however, said it is time for the society in Kashmir to think how long they will maintain silence while terrorism consumes their teenaged children. “Security forces have stopped live encounters at times to ensure that these young men are brought back to the national mainstream,” he said.
He said there is no place for laxity on the part of security agencies in maintaining pressure on terrorists and their supporters. “One needs to continue maintaining pressure on Over Ground Workers (OGWs), especially from the banned Jamaat-e-Islami group, who have been instrumental in brainwashing the youth,” the officer said. (PTI)