New face of terrorism in Kashmir: Choosing local boys to kill soft targets

Despite a huge crowd turning out to attend the funeral of Arshid Ahmad Mir, the police sub-inspector killed by terrorists on September 12, there has been no public condemnation of the killers.

There are two basic points which emerge from this enigmatic behaviour of Kashmiri people –Number one: Had Kashmiris approved of the innocent police officer’s senseless murder, none would have turned out to join the funeral except the immediate family.

Number two: Why did such a huge crowd attend the police officer’s funeral and yet, did not condemn this act of terrorism?

After all the so-called big commanders of terror outfits were eliminated one after the other by the security forces in Kashmir, the handlers of terrorism across the border started realising the futility of glorifying terrorist commanders whether foreigners or locals.

The death of a ‘glorified’ terror commander has always had a negative impact on the growth of terror outfits in Kashmir. In addition to incurring huge costs to keep the terror commanders in the circuit, Pakistani handlers also realised that one-man terror shows do not last long.

Whether it was Mastgul or Naveed Jat, foreigners have always run out of control for their Pakistani handlers. Sometimes these terrorists have killed on orders from across the border and sometimes they did so following their personal anger and whims. This has forced the handlers to look for ‘cheaper assets’ among local youth those can be used to carry out killings of soft targets without any fear of being able to reveal the larger designs of their handlers.

An unarmed traffic policeman, a security man on leave in his ancestral village, a political activist sitting inside a shop or a police officer like Arshid Ahmad Mir, who was on practical training and was moving around without an escort.

Most of the time, the boys used to carry out such attacks are locals who might work in pairs or even alone. A pistol in majority of cases or an odd AK-47 in some cases, is all the weapon their handlers trust these ‘recruits’ with.

A successful kill, whether pre-planned or carried out at the spur of the moment, is all that matters for the ‘baptism’ of these local boys into terrorism.

Any local recruit who kills a policeman or a political activist immediately understands that it is a one-way road for him thereafter. This realisation makes such boys more subservient to the dictates of their handlers.

The larger message of such killings is to instil fear in the minds of the people. As an ordinary Kashmiri always has his ear close to the ground, he understands that to become the target of the newly recruited local boys, one does not have to be a big shot.

If you have spoken against terrorism in your locality, it is the local terror recruit who comes to know of your utterances. Thus, an all pervading silence takes over the people and this fear ridden silence is projected as public support for ahome grown militancy’.

The general refrain is that since the newly recruited boys are locals with families and relations spread across the valley, public sympathy for them is natural. Nothing could be farther from truth than this piece of misinformation.

There have not been more than one or two cases in which the families did not lodge missing reports with the police and issued appeals through social media for their ‘misguided’ sons to return.

The case of family approval is, therefore, ruled out for the so-called home grown militants. The newly recruited boys have little training to face the security forces during encounters. This is the main reason that during operations, security forces often make announcements to these boys to surrender.

For their Pakistani handlers, the local boys used for soft target killings are not only easily expendable, but also useful to trigger feuds among families.

Whether it happens today or tomorrow, the families of those soft targets killed by local boys eventually come to know who the killer/killers have been. This development has the potential to trigger unending family feuds in the local society. This is the most dangerous fallout of locals getting killed by locals at the behest of Pakistani handlers.

If the trend continues, an eye for an eye will make every Kashmiri blind.