Hybrid Militancy in Shopian District
by Bisma Nazir
The uphill task for Shopian Administration since the last three years has been the
incident free culmination of the apple harvesting season.
This season has been challenging because of the high involvement of non-locals in
plucking and also in the transportation of apples from the orchards. Hundreds of
non-local labours and truckers move deep into the interiors of Shopian district for
labour and transportation.
Since the last three years, militants have been targeting the non-locals during this
season. Their easy accessibility in the orchards is needed by the apple growers.
But this is also a cause of concern for the police.
A number of non-locals and truckers have been targeted and killed in Shopian
district during the last three years. During this season, two non-locals have been
killed by the militants.
Police and security forces are on toes to ensure the safety and security of the
non- locals working in orchards. The district administration is now little relieved as
the plucking has almost finished and labourers are back in relatively safe areas.
However, the challenge to safeguard resident Kashmiri Pandits is still there.
Kashmiri Pandits own land and property here, and have to often move out for
farming activities. Given the level of threat to the lives of Kashmiri Pandits, the
government has provided a security cover to the Kashmiri Pandit habitation.
The issue of concern is that the guard remains stationed at the habitation areas. It
is next to impossible to provide security to each and every Kashmiri Pandit while
they are working in their fields.
The challenge is daunting given the culture of hybrid militants and Over Ground
Workers. (OGWs). Hybrid militants are posing a significant challenge to the safety
and security of the soft targets. Regular militants are always on run for their own
safety while hybrid militants remain safe in the anonymity.
After the identification of soft targets, hybrid militants are provided with the
weapons. They hit the target, dump the weapon and try to resume their normal
life as usual.
Police have learnt that hybrid militants get direct instructions from Pakistan on
certain social media applications. There is no conduit between them and their
handlers. Even the regular militants do not know of the communication between
the Pakistan handlers and the hybrid militants.
The handlers from across the border indoctrinate the youth online and give them
a task to kill a civilian soft target. When questioned in this regard, SP Shopian Ms
Tanushree, IPS, said that because of the peculiar nature of their profile, hybrid
militants are not identified.
It is evident that technical surveillance and artificial intelligence has not worked in
identifying these silent killers. “One of the most reliable ways to identify and bust
hybrid militancy modules is through human intel inputs. Only the friends and peer
groups knew about the behaviour of their accomplices. Hence the important thing
is to strengthen human intelligence to deal with the problem of hybrid militancy,”
said SP Tanushree. “Only those whose next step is to go underground are tasked
to kill a civilian. This is the definite pattern which we are witnessing in this phase
of militancy,” SP Tanushree told Kashmir Central.
It is also important for the administration to relocate the security forces deployed
in the district. It has been noticed that wherever there is an open space or
building, the security forces are camped there. Given the enormity of the
challenge, the relocation of security forces is important to at least provide
deterrent to the hybrid militants in accessing their targets.