Jammu and Kashmir security forces' new appeal to militants: Surrender, come home and rejoin society

These days, when security forces trap Kashmiri militants in a home and surround them, they often use their family members and village elders to appeal to them to surrender.

Their only communication tool? A handheld microphone.

A militant arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police. Sameer Yasir

A militant arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police. Image courtesy: Sameer Yasir

The first such surrender took place last year in Sopore, north Kashmir after Superintendent of Police Harmeet Singh Mehta was struck by an idea: Why not get the family members of a militant to persuade him to surrender? Mehta made one such militant speak with his father and a few elders of Tujjar village in Sopore. It worked!

Although success isn't guaranteed, security forces said that thanks to this method, more and more militants are surrendering. In fact, over 80 militants have turned themselves in this year, giving many desperate parents a glimmer of hope.

In the past three days alone, forces have used this method to nab two militants and one over ground worker who were involved in separate attacks on security forces in the Valley.

Two of these militants were involved in snatching weapons, the third was a Jaish-e-Mohammad militant involved in the September attack on cavalcade of works minister Naeem Akhtar in Tral area of Pulwama district in which three persons were killed.

Inspector General of Police, Munir Khan, addressing a press conference in Srinagar, before he brought out the arrested militants in the Srinagar police control room said, “We want to make a commitment that any local militant who wants to surrender will be treated fairly. They can surrender at any time, even during an anti-insurgency operation.”

One such dramatic surrender took place on 10 September in Shopian district. Adil Hussain, who joined the militants in May, was trapped by the police. After he was told he would be treated fairly if he surrendered, Hussain lay down his arms.

"We pulled that one off with persuasion and patience," Khan said. "But it doesn't happen everyday. If a foreign militant is accompanying a local militant, he might be influenced otherwise."

The Jammu and Kashmir Police, Indian Army and other security agencies are strongly advocating a rehabilitation policy for Kashmiri militants who have recently surrendered.

Khan said this is the only way to return the militants—over 100 boys reportedly joined different militant outfits after the 2016 unrest in the Valley—to the mainstream.

The unrest began after security forces killed militant leader Burhan Wani. Close to 100 people were killed and thousands injured in the aftermath. The police launched a crackdown on protesters and thousands were arrested.

Even as the security operations against militants are going full steam, the police is urging militants to surrender and assuring them of rehabilitation. While there is no policy in place to rehabilitate Kashmiri militants who have surrendered, security forces have been impressing upon different state and central agencies for the need for exactly such a policy.

“From our point of view, it's not too late for those Kashmiri boys who joined the militants," said CRPF IG Zulfikar Hassan. "They can still abandon this path and come home. We will take care of them and ensure that they are safe. They should not be influenced by foreign terrorists."

Mohammad Munawar Dar's son joined the insurgency last year. He's fighting with an outfit in Sopat Tangpora, Kulgam district, south Kashmir.

“It is good that the police are trying to catch militants alive instead of killing them," Dar said. "It might persuade others who have joined the militants to stop fighting."

Farooq Ahmad Dar, a relative, said the family was unaware that their boy had joined the militants. The police told them he was involved in hurling a grenade at the car of a leader. "We hope one day that he will return to us," Farooq said.

Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid told Firstpost that the police were continuously striving to save the lives of youth, bring them back into society and save their families from suffering further.

“It is not just about individuals," Vaid said. "One has to also think about their families. Life is a gift from God. It should not be wasted."

However, Vaid was sure to add that if someone was involved in a serious crime, no leniency would be offered.

As the police move their counter-insurgency operations from south to north Kashmir, where foreign militants dominate, it remains to be seen whether this policy will be successful.



Updated Date: Oct 16, 2017 17:45 PM

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