Recent reports in the Indian media indicate that young Muslims in India’s Jammu & Kashmir state are increasingly joining militant groups, especially Pakistan-backed jihadist groups such as Hizbul Mujahideen.
Following are excerpts from an Indian media report examining the radicalization of a young Kashmiri:
“Some years ago, Burhan Wani did his parents proud with impressive marks in his class 10 board exams. Now at 21, he carries a reward of Rs 10 lakh [one million Indian rupees] on his head. Meet the new face of Kashmiri militancy in the virtual world: a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander whose ultimate goal is to ‘unfurl the flag of Islam on Delhi’s Red Fort.’
“[In jihadi videos] much like [those of] the Islamic State [ISIS], which is using social media for recruitment and giving governments absolute fits, Wani is the star of jihadi videos in which he motivates the youth to join the ‘holy war’ with the ‘promise of a fulfilled life hereafter.’ Clad in casual Western [clothing], a clean-shaven Wani inspires… troubled [Kashmir] Valley youth through video clips or audio messages glorifying militancy. Adapt in working social media, Wani tell his followers in an audio clip how proud he is that his name is in the hearts of the youth, especially those ‘fighting against India.’ A new video, which has gone viral, shows him embracing an armed militant.
“Police are aware of Wani’s jihadi propaganda. ‘He must have recruited at least 30 young boys from South Kashmir. Some of them have been killed, but many are still active,’ says an officer. ‘Social media, like Facebook and WhatsApp, has immense reach and when you have a young, good-looking man who looks like the boy next door inviting you to jihad, it does make an impact.’ Jammu and Kashmir Police have moved to court to seek directives to block Facebook pages glorifying militants, including Wani’s videos.
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