In one of the deadliest attacks on security forces, the recent Pulwama attack, that took lives of 44 CRPF jawans, brings us to an apparent problem of Radicalisation. In layman words, a radical is a person who supports or represents an extremist ideology, which is generally violent in nature. It is thus a radical mind, that instigates a person to adopt violent measures to achieve his motives. In the context of Jammu & Kashmir, radicalisation has become a concerted issue today. It is spreading like a viral disease among young kashmiris and is indeed the root cause of all terrorist activities happening in the valley.[i] According to official reports, there has been an increase in recruitments of locals from 128 in 2017 to 219 in 2018. [ii] Of these annual recruitments, it has been observed that there is a recent trend of young and educated boys joining in large numbers. So, what brings these young boys to the battle of blood and violence? Who all are the agents of such violence?
If we look at the present generation of Kashmir, we would realise that upto two family generations have grown up in an environment of violence, unrest and injustice. They have been subjected to the phenomenon of long and continuous curfews, deprivation of basic rights and freedom, prolonged loss of internet connections, violent stone pelting etc. Few government policies have alienated people away from trusting any branch of government including security forces which is also a cause for radicalisation. They feel that it is their prime duty to fight for their rights and freedom and pick up arms. Another reason for rise in militancy has been the “romanticism” of the idea of “jihad.” If we look at the video messages of infamous militants Burhan Wani (killed in 2016)[iii], Zakir Musa and Adil Ahmad Dar (killed in 2019)[iv], the commonality lies in their interpretation and propagation of jihad as the only means to fight. With 60% of the total population in the valley being under 30 years, the role of social media in romanticising the idea of martyrdom through guns have become significant. Other side of the coin that we often fail to realise is the persisting personal grievance and the sense of injustice among the people of Kashmir towards the security forces and the government. This could be the primary reason for highly educated youths to join militancy.
Talking about the agents of radicalisation, the first and the foremost agents of radicalisation are Mosques. For the people of Kashmir, the preaching of Imams and the Mullahs play an important role and guide their way of thinking and beliefs. The valley has been shifting from its moderate school of Hanafi/ Sufism thought into a hard-line idea of Wahhabism, geminated in Ahl-e-Hadith.[v] Many Islamic preachers are believed to manoeuvre the platforms to spread their messages and exercise their influence on larger population. In a similar way, the educational institutions, madrassas are believed to be making continuous efforts on ingraining little children about the idea of jihad and religious duties as a Muslim. Another important player is the proxy war conducted by the neighbouring country Pakistan since the dispute started in 1947. The country is believed to follow a military strategy of “Bleed India through thousand cuts.” which ensures defeating India through proxy wars, terrorism, diplomacy games etc.[vi] The country’s army and intelligence agency harbours and trains foreign fighters to fight in Kashmir and pollute the minds of young Kashmiris against India. The role of OGWs (over Ground workers) have come up in recent years, who are non-weaponised and support radicalisation through social media platforms, discussion channels, propaganda videos and pamphlets Due to their clandestine activities and non criminal records, they are impossible for security agencies or security forces to traced or find. [vii] They can be anyone from a household woman to a teenage boy or an old man. [viii]
Radicalisation is the undoubtedly the root cause of terrorism and find solutions to perorate the root cause in an effective manner by identifying and eliminating OGWs and other agents who are poisoning the minds of young Kashmiris. There is a need to have a balanced approach to de-radicalisation, counter-radicalisation and anti-radicalisation strategies to address this issue.
[i]Borum, Randy. Radicalization into Violent Extremism I: A Review of Social Science Theories. Journal of Strategic Security. Vol. 4 Issue 4. (2011) pp. 7–36 [ii]NewIndianXpress. (2019, March 12). J&K: Fewer youth joining militancy in the Valley. Retrieved May 6, 2019, from http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/mar/12/fewer-youth-joining-militancy-in-the-valley-1949947.html [iii]Dasgupta, P., & Dasgupta, P. (2017, February 06). Who Was Burhan Wani And Why Is Kashmir Mourning Him? Retrieved May 6, 2019, from https://www.huffingtonpost.in/burhan-wani/who-was-burhan-wani-and-why-is-kashmir-mourning-him_a_21429499/ [iv]Mir, H. (2019, February 18). Another Day, Another Death In Pulwama Bomber's Village. Retrieved May 6, 2019, from https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/pulwama-attack-just-another-detail-for-suicide-bomber-adil-dars-village_in_5c699d01e4b033a79943a0da [v]Singh, A. T. (2019, May 05). Kashmir stone pelting: Here's how schools of faith, mobiles are radicalising Kashmir | India News - Times of India. Retrieved May 6, 2019, from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/how-mosques-and-mobiles-are-radicalising-kashmir/articleshow/59507200.cms [vi]^Ganguly, Deadly Impasse 2016, p. 27: 'The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) led attack on Bombay (Mumbai) in November 2008 was emblematic of this new strategy designed to bleed India with a "war of a thousand cuts".' [vii]Rashid, H. I. (2018, September 04). Jammu and Kashmir police revising list of suspected over-ground workers of militants. Retrieved May 1, 2019, from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/jammu-and-kashmir-police-revising-list-of-suspected-over-ground-workers-of-militants/articleshow/65664094.cms?from=mdr [viii]OGWs give J&K security forces sleepless nights. (2017, July 24). Retrieved May 6, 2019, from https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-ogws-give-jk-security-forces-sleepless-nights-2511706 AS Chonker, SWOT Analysis of J &K with special reference to Kashmir, Manekshaw Paper, CLAWS, No. 17, 2018 Rohit Singh, Understanding the Indian Mujahideen, Manekshaw Paper, CLAWS, No. 19, 2010 Maj. Gen. Vivek Sehgal, The Jammu and Kashmir Imbroglio, Issue Brief, CLAWS, No.172, Feb. 2019 LaksheshSihag, Stone-Pelting in Kashmir Valley1: Violation of Human Rights of Armed Forces Personnel, Issue Brief, CLAWS, No. 149, August 2018