Baramulla no longer militancy free as youth take up arms

At least four youth from the district, which was declared militancy-free on 23 January, have reportedly joined militant groups in past two months. The fresh militant recruits have come from various areas of the district.
Among the new militants is Uzair Amin Bhat alias Ibrahim Bayi son of Mohammad Amin Bhat of Chesti Colony, Baramulla. A purported picture of Bhat has surfaced on social media, showing him holding an AK 47 rifle.
Bhat is a 12th standard pass out and has joined Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit on 2 July, the description on the picture reads.
Another youth, Aasif Maqbool Bhat son of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat of Athoora village in Kreeri, some 17 kilometers from district headquarter Baramulla, has joined Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit.
His purported picture was also circulated on social media, showing him dressed in Army camouflage with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder and a pistol in his left hand.
Aasif, also a 12th standard pass out, has joined the militant group on 1 July, the picture description says.
Earlier, a picture of Adnan Ahmad Channa, 20, son of Ali Muhammad Channa, resident of Arampora, Azad Gunj Baramulla was circulated on social media, announcing his joining in LeT on 15 June.
Another youth Junaid Farooq from Hamray area of the district, whose picture was circulated on social media, announced his joining of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen on 9 June.
In the picture, Junaid is holding a rifle with a camouflage covering his skull and the description reads: he had Masters’ degree in English.
Police had declared Baramulla as first “militancy free” district in Kashmir after three local Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in an encounter with forces on 23 January this year.
The district shares the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK) in Gulmarg and Uri sectors. For militants from across the LoC, Baramulla happens to be a major infiltration route.
On 30 March, militants returned to the district when a drug de-addiction campaigner, Arjumand Majid Bhat, who also ran a shop in the main town, was shot dead by unknown gunmen.
Ten days before Bhat’s killing, two militants including one from Sopore, Aamir Rasool Kaboo, were killed in gunfight at Kalantara, Bandi payeen area of the district.
Baramulla is strategically central location in north Kashmir and has huge presence of forces particularly Army. The district is vulnerable to foreign militants infiltrating from across the LoC via Uri sector or Gulmarg sector.
A security official said that the recruitment of youth into militancy in the district was cause of worry, the recruitment otherwise has been low compared to southern Kashmir districts.
He said that the forces were making efforts to make youth drop the gun.
A senior police officer said that they were able to stop two youth from treading on the path of militancy in the district.
“When we received reports that the duo has inclination towards militancy, their families were approached immediately and they were counselled,” he said.
The officer said that some of the families of militants appealed their kin to give up arms, however, none among them have returned back.
Before the district was declared militancy-free, a police official had said that they had been able to facilitate return of 24 youth from militant ranks.

javid@risingkashmir.co