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Kashmiri youth and home grown Militancy: not by choice

Kashmiri youth shunning home grown militancy, A shining ray of hope
A total of ten armed militants have shunned the path of militancy to return home in the past few months which the police attribute to young footballer Majid Khan returning home after an emotive video appeal by his mother and a sustained social media campaign by his relatives and friends, urging him to return home in November last year. The return of these youths is a big success for the security agencies who have been facing home grown militancy for long but it brings in a bigger relief for the families who had almost lost their young sons and would have probably seen them next only lay still in a coffin.

Soft approach towards home grown militancy and its high pay offs
The much spoken about “soft approach” towards militants surrendering needs to be implemented in true letter and spirit.Doubling cash rewards wouldn’t go a long way; building of trust and not mere assurance but providing such radicalized youth a dignified life after surrender, emboldening them to support their families would help stabilize the rocky state of affairs in the state.  Say facilitating bank loans for startups, honing skill set, further education, and employment as per qualification. Home grown militancy is the worst since it reflects of deep mistrust between state agencies and locals. Any loss of life further deepens this mistrust and no amount of welfare measures can then soothe a bleeding heart. Therefore, it is extremely important to tackle this evil with a sensitive approach keeping in mind the reasons for such drastic measures taken up by the youth clearly knowing that the end result would be fatal.

Objectives of surrender policy
Till date the main objective of the surrender policy for militants is to wean away the misguided youth and hardcore militants that have strayed into the folds of militancy and now find themselves trapped into that net. However this sensitive issue doesn’t get over with the militant surrendering his arm. Instead it is from here on that a road map carefully allowing him to get back to a normal life needs to be chalked out, without him feeling betrayed at any stage. This is equally important in order to ensure that these young boys who have chosen to return do not regret their move or are coaxed to join militancy again. Any sense of betrayal caused in the form of humiliation by either security agencies or social strata could undo a major positive step towards fighting home grown militancy.

Surrendered youths to be viewed with empathy not suspicion
The militants as well as the benefits under the surrender scheme need to be viewed with empathy. The fact that these “sons of the soil” are not born terrorists but due to various factors prevalent in the state (mainly Pakistan’s vested interests) are easily misled to take up arms against security agencies after extreme radicalization. We have to bear in mind that there are no short cuts to de-radicalize such men. It’s a tedious process and perseverance would eventually pay off. However, certain measures to ensure a fair play of trust between all parties need to be instituted.Hence, the state may contemplate taking a few steps to ensure that militants who surrender are not coerced into returning to the militant fold.

Things to do to tackle home grown militancy
A suitable NGO, with good credentials, willing to work in this sphere, will prove to be an ideal buffer for rehabilitating such youth. If possible they should be temporarily moved out of the district to reset their lives in a different environment. The financial package should be implemented as early as possible, as most have joined militancy for financial gains. Minimal monitoring by Security forces else it would amount to a trust deficit. Gainful employment opportunities at an early stage would deter them and encourage others to surrender. Promptness by the government and security agencies, if visible and genuine, would go a long way in tackling home grown militancy; by reducing fresh recruits from picking up the gun, and encouraging those with it to surrender. If actions are slow, then irrespective of the goodwill generated by security forces, surrenders would be minuscule. Impact assessment of the surrender policies (keeping in mind the changing dynamics) to ensure corrective action if required also needs to be carried out from time to time.

Conclusion
J&K needs more of Majids to support their emotionally ruptured families. Only then can home grown militancy fueled by Pakistan be effectively tackled.  A forgiving and accepting society which would assist in rehabilitating the misguided youth by allowing them a fair chance to contribute sincerely towards their family and state would be a solid punch on the face of the perpetrators of jihad who have scarred many lives for an illusionary cause suiting their interests not the people of Kashmir.

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