A recruitment drive is planned on the first death anniversary of militant commander Burhan Wani. Quite an audacious move, you might think. It will certainly be called audacious if the army, police or paramilitary forces had planned it. But no, they are contemplating curfew on 8 July (Saturday). There were even talks about imposing curfew in the region.
What makes the recruitment drive audacious is that it has been called by Zakir 'Musa', the radical militant commander who appears to have the allegiance and fan following of the majority of Kashmiri teenagers. Not only has the former Hizbul Mujahideen commander, who overtook the reins from Burhan, called recruits to join on the dead militant's death anniversary, but also at Burhan's native Tral. It has been advertised through several WhatsApp groups, many of which have large numbers of members across the Valley.
Those who have seen the notice, say 450 openings for new militants have been touted — 480, according to one version. It seems that interested boys are to be measured, given health checks, made to run a distance, and do the other things a recruitment exercise usually involves.
Morale and coordination
This audacity signals four things which must be taken seriously and not wished away with blinkered propaganda. One, it signals a buoyant morale among militants, especially the most radical stream of youth mobilisation. Musa is the flavour of the season. Ten militants were reported to have gone from Hizbul Mujahideen to Musa's camp earlier this week.
Even the three Lashkar-e-Taiba militants, who were killed in an encounter at Kakapora on 22 June, spoke to Musa over the telephone in their last hour. The content of that phone conversation is significant. They asked him to get in touch with Abu Dujana, and get a list of their contacts from him.
Since Dujana heads Lashkar-e-Taiba operations in south Kashmir, this is only one of several indications that the various groups are working in tandem. Musa's open radicalisation has not splintered the militant movement. Rather, it has steered the movement overall in an even radical jihad-oriented direction.
Arms and ammunition
Operationally, the call to recruit could indicate that arms have become available for the new batch of militant recruits. So far, most of the boys operating in south Kashmir have worked with 'snatched' guns. If some of the most well-informed observers here are to be believed, they have also been getting hold of ammunition from police armouries.
So far, police estimates put the number of militants at a little more than 200. To ask for almost 500 new militants to rally to the movement in one go, must signal that a sure-fire supply of weapons has become available. There are indeed rumours that high-calibre weapons have reached the Valley — presumably from across the Line of Control.
Whatever the truth of such rumours, various forces deployed in the Valley should keep a zealous vigil on their arms and ammunition dumps. For any of these to be compromised would change the balance of firepower advantage tremendously.
The more obvious signal of this recruitment effort is what is already widely expected in Kashmir — that militancy is set to take a quantum leap in the next few days and weeks. In fact, it would not be surprising if a war-like scenario were to emerge on the ground by August.
That would set the stage for belligerence at the United Nations General Assembly in September. Pakistan has often raised the Kashmir issue in past years but generally got no support. This time, Turkey (on Indian soil) and Iran (at the highest level) have already spoken in favour of the Kashmiri armed struggle. Given its global trade clout, China could potentially rally a couple of score more UN members.
Dramatic events and scenes in the Valley over the next two months would be tailor-made to set the stage for key geo-strategic moves on the global stage.
Updated Date: Jul 06, 2017 11:41 AM