Jammu, February 4:
As many as 191 local youths joined various militant outfits in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018, 65 more than 2017, a senior Army official said Monday.
The new recruits mostly hailed from the restive south Kashmir region, he added.
“As many as 191 Kashmiri youths joined militancy in 2018,” the official told PTI.
In 2017, 126 locals had joined militant ranks, he said.
South Kashmir districts — Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag — have become a breeding ground for militants with many youths joining their rank and file, the officer said.
Outfits like the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Lashker-e- Taiba find more recruits, he said.
The official said out of the 191 recruits in 2018, 139 alone hailed from south Kashmir. The highest — 59 — was from Pulwama, he added.
In 2016, the official said, 88 Kashmiri youths had joined militancy.
Since 2016, there has been a constant rise in the number of youths joining militancy, he added.
As many as 66 youths joined militancy in Kashmir in 2015 and 53 in 2014.
In 2010, 54 youths had joined militancy, while in 2011 the number came down to 23. It further dipped to 21 in 2012 and 16 in 2013, the official said.
The data is based on technical and human intelligence, besides interrogation reports of militants arrested during various counter-insurgency operations in the valley, he added.
Although more youths were attracted towards militancy in 2018, security forces were able to gun down 257 terrorists in the year.
As many as 257 terrorists were killed across Jammu and Kashmir in 2018, Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh had said last month, asserting that counter-insurgency operations would continue in 2019 with major focus on strengthening border and hinterland security.