Srinagar: The changed face of militancy in the Kashmir Valley has led the Army to "completely review" its anti-infiltration and counter-insurgency strategies to tackle among other things the growing trend of youths, even educated ones, gravitating towards terror outfits.
The likely attempts from across the border to again push in militants are also being factored by the Army in its new approach.
With reports suggesting that nearly 50 youths have joined militant ranks this year, Lt Gen Subrata Saha, General Officer in Command of prestigious 15 Corps, is a worried man.
"I will not like to get into numbers. What bothers me is that if any youth is joining the terror group, it is disturbing. And, if educated youth are joining, it is a cause of more concern to all of us," Gen Saha told PTI.
Without getting into any blame game, Gen Saha said: "It is worrisome and needs to be addressed. But while addressing this issue, one has to ensure that it has a permanent solution rather than adopting a quick-fix method with no guarantee of a breakdown again."
Gen Saha minced no words in sharing his concern over the situation in the Valley and said that though it was generally peaceful, there have been incidents of breakdown in mobile communication and selective killings in some parts.
"To an extent we can call it peaceful, and stable overall, but certainly there is a potential of fragile situation developing and it is something that as security agencies we have to be conscious about.
"We are working towards ensuring that these aberrations, if I may use that word, are checked and the situation continues to remain the way as it ought to be," said Gen Saha, who has earned the reputation of being a 'people-friendly General' for his spate of initiatives to keep the youth in the Valley engaged.
Known for mingling with the crowd to understand their problems, Gen Saha is credited for his adept handling of the situation in Sopore in North Kashmir after a spate of civilian killings. He held a meeting with top police and intelligence officials at ground zero itself.
The pattern of killings needed to be understood and it
was better to be at the spot rather than drawing up maps and getting second-hand information from district police officials, he said.
"As security agencies, we are studying the possible grey areas which had got exploited in these incidents. In most of these cases, shots were fired from pistols and the targets were chosen in a way so that the attackers could get away very quickly. This shows that there is a change in strategy. As far as security forces are concerned, we are undertaking a complete review of our strategy," he said.
Gen Saha said that all the agencies which are dealing with the situation have come together.
"We have tried to figure out a strategy, we have tried to figure out the right disposition of the entire range of resources so that we are able to contain the emerging situation," he said.
On the issue of hoisting of Pakistani and ISIS flags in the Valley, he made it clear that it was a law and order problem which needed to be dealt with by the police. However, he commented that "even if it is isolated, it ought to be taken up very seriously. It has to be investigated and taken to its logical conclusion before any trend or pattern develops from that."
"The emergence of the ISIS flags deserves highest attention of the security agencies to prevent the youth of Kashmir from getting lured (into ISIS). The ability of ISIS to attract large number of volunteers is a matter of concern. There are believed to be 10,000 to 15,000 volunteers at present fighting for ISIS," he said.
As snow melts in the higher reaches, Gen Saha is concerned over the situation in the areas under his command.
"Most of the mechanisms which we use to prevent infiltration is active and more robust than in the previous year," he said, adding the Army is prepared to respond to any challenge.
Gen Saha, who is on the verge of completing his tenure, is credited by analysts for bringing the Army closer to people. His earlier stint was as Brigade Commander in Keran sector. He still visits the area often and interacts with the local people.
He responded with a smile when asked if he is scared of mingling with the crowd without any security cover, and replied: "I have helped them and they have helped me. I always believe that respect is commanded and not demanded and have been following that principle."