Local youth joining militant ranks a concern: Lt Gen Anbu

Calls Sunjwan attack ‘frustrated attempt by Pak’; rules out ‘tit for tat’; says 300 militants ready to cross LoC

Yogesh Sagotra / PTI
Udhampur, Publish Date: Feb 15 2018 12:13AM | Updated Date: Feb 15 2018 12:13AM
Local youth joining militant ranks a concern: Lt Gen AnbuGK Photo

Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General Devraj Anbu on Wednesday said that local youth joining militancy in Kashmir is a ‘concern’ and the trend needs to be addressed. He termed the fidayeen attack at military station Sunjwan in Jammu as a “frustrated attempt by Pakistan” and ruled out possibility of any “tit for tat” action against the neighboring country.      

“We take disturbance as three point challenge, first: to stop infiltration bids across the border, second: to eliminate whosoever is active in hinterland and the third and the most important is to address the concerns of youth, who are joining militancy,” Lieutenant General Anbu told reporters during a customary press conference after Northern Command’s Investiture Ceremony here this afternoon.

“In the first two areas, the army is doing pretty well but our main focus is on new recruitment of local youth. The trend continues to increase and there are large numbers of reasons for this,” he said.

“We don’t consider new recruits as threats but even joining of a single (Kashmiri) youth is a concern for us in a larger context,” he claimed.

“The new recruits are mainly below 30 years of age. Almost 50-60% youth, who pick up the arms belong to poor families and another 40% are unemployed,” he said, adding that this was the category of people who were getting influenced in very large number. “This needs to be taken care of.”

“The life span of militants is just 6-7 months.  Nearly 33% of new recruits have already been eliminated and 12% have given up the arms, remaining are on target,” Lt General Anbu said. 

He urged the civil society to intervene and play a “positive role” to bring “misguided youth” to mainstream. “The curve of joining will come down, but it will take a while and every section needs to play its part,” he added.

The army commander of the strategically-important Northern Command, which looks after the borders from Ladakh to Jammu said, “Process has already started and 6-8 militants have returned home.”  

 The army commander asked the parents to approach their children to shun the gun and join the mainstream. “Apart from militants, we have to deal with over ground workers, who play a pivotal role in motivating the youth to pick up the arms. If these two factors are addressed properly, it (new joining) will come down,” he added.

Lt General Anbu claimed that “social media is acting as a catalyst” in brewing militancy. “Social media is also responsible for increase in terror, it's engaging the youth at a large scale and I think we need to focus on this issue soon.” 

 

Jammu army camp attack

He refused to accept the contention that a “security lapse” led to last week's suicide attack on Sunjwan military station in Jammu and said it was a "frustrated" attempt by Pakistan after it “failed to counter the army's dominance at the LoC.”

He said, "It is but natural that the enemy is on the receiving end and looks for the easier alternative," he said.

He said the army would not be cowed down by "small incidents" like "fidayeen" (suicide) attacks or other things and would rather work according to the strategy adopted after the Uri attacks.

"We have adapted to it very well and in the whole year we have dominated the adversary. It has been a proactive action after the Uri incident and we have not looked back," Anbu said.

Militants on September 18, 2016, had stormed a battalion headquarters of the army in north Kashmir's Uri town in the early hours, killing 17 soldiers and injuring 20 other personnel.

Anbu said Pakistan and its snooping agency ISI were directly involved in “promoting militancy” not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also in neighbouring countries.

Anbu, who is the senior most army officer in the command, said the army was prioritizing security of small camps in vulnerable areas and those which need immediate attention.

Asked about possible Indian retaliation against the attack on the Sunjwan Army camp, he said, "Operating along the LoC is quite complex and challenging. I do not feel that we really need to do tit for tat."

 

More than 300 militants ready to enter India

He said: "(A total of) 185-220 militants in the south and 190-225 militants in the north of Peer Panchal are ... ready for infiltration."

The army commander maintained that the force would continue with its endeavour of ensuring zero infiltration. "Infiltration does take place. We endeavour to ensure zero infiltration that is our job and we put our best effort," he said.

He said there was considerable reduction in infiltration, but the number of attempts almost doubled in 2007 compared to the previous year.

On the casualties suffered by Pakistan in the retaliatory action to ceasefire violations, the officer said you do not come to know what is the damage caused across the border because “our adversary” is reluctant to accept the casualties. “We are in a very dominating position."

Though some media reports suggest that Pakistan suffered 192 fatal casualties along the LoC, the army is not going to put a figure because of the simple reason that Pakistan has only admitted to 13 casualties, he said.

Lt General Anbu without naming Assaduddin Owaisi said, “Army doesn't communalise martyrs. Those making statements don't know the Army well.” He was reacting to Owaisi’s statement on the “silence on killing of five Muslim soldiers in Jammu base attack.

He also said that Hizb ul Mujahideen (HM), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant outfits are working in unison.

“All three groups like HM, JeM or LeT are hand in glove whether it's in Valley or here. There is no differentiation; they keep jumping from one Tanzim to other. Anyone who picks up arms and is against the state is a militant and we'll deal with him,” he said.