Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, which the police have described as a militancy-free zone for more than a decade, is apparently witnessing a fresh recruitment of locals as the gun-totting image of an 18-year-old Srinagar boy has gone viral on social media in the past 24 hours.
Wearing army fatigues, pictures of Tufail Ahmad Mir, a resident of Srinagar’s Qamarwari area, apparently circulated by the Hizbul Mujahideen, have taken the security agencies by surprise.
Mir, a first year student of Government Bemina Degree College, has been missing since May 20. “The youth has joined the Hizb ranks. We are following the case closely. It’s surprising that his picture emerged just five days after he went missing,” said a police officer of the counter-insurgency cell. “Usually, fresh recruits remain underground for more than a month. In this case, it’s not even a week.”
Since January this year, there were constant inputs, according to the police, of growing numbers of militants in Srinagar, where local recruitment has been negligible in the past one decade.
The last local militants from Srinagar, Ibrahim Dar, a resident of Batamallo’s Tengpora, and Ishfaq Ahmad Rather, Narwara, were killed in encounter in Lawaypora, on the outskirts of Srinagar, in 2005. The major engagement between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir from 2003 till 2008 saw a major decline in locals from Srinagar joining the militant ranks. However, in the past one year, according to the police data, nine locals have joined the militancy.
“At least two youth took up the arms since January this year,” police said.
At least 13 militants are active in Srinagar, which include two foreigners.