Srinagar: 'Catch them alive' - is the new mantra of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir as they shift gear to focus on finding new recruits and motivate them to return to their families. The strategy of police and security agencies is to cut the "umbilical cord" by smashing the overground worker network, which is instrumental in radicalising youth and pushing them to jihad, as per officials.
"Our effort is to catch them alive and understand their grievances. After all, a 15 or 16-year-old boy can't be brainwashed to the extent that he would like to be killed in a gunfight. There has to be a counter-narrative," a senior official, engaged in counter-insurgency operations, was quoted as saying by PTI.
Hardcore terrorists like Saddam Paddar, Esa Fazl and Sameer Tiger have been eliminated in recent times by the security forces. Now, efforts are on to change the script. Officials said that operations based on specific intelligence inputs will continue, but there will be also be increasing emphasis on catching newly-recruited terrorists alive.
"In the last seven months, four new recruits have been arrested while one returned... My director general of police (SP Vaid) has also appealed to misguided youths and so I am asking them to return to their families," Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Swayam Prakash Pani told the news agency.
The multi-pronged strategy - including encounters with militants, fighting their overground workers in courts and smashing their network of sympathisers - has also brought down the number of videos on social media showing groups of militants roaming freely in the orchards and forests of Tral, Shopian and Kulgam in South Kashmir.
Meanwhile, on May 16, 2018, the Centre had announced that security forces would not launch any operation in the state during the holy month of Ramzan. The Ministry of Home Affairs had said that the decision had been taken to help the "peace-loving Muslims observe Ramzan in a peaceful environment". However, it had added that the security forces "reserve the right to retaliate if attacked or if essential to protect the lives of innocent people".
Security forces are said to have killed over 70 terrorists in J&K in the last seven months.
(With Agency inputs)