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Pakistan radicalises Kashmiri youth using social media, local influencers, and drugs: Indian Army

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 To radicalise the Kashmiri youth to pick up the gun, Pakistan is using a mix of social media, local influencers and narcotics. However, to counter the propaganda of the inimical elements, Indian Army has launched various people-friendly initiatives a senior army officer has said.

General Officer Commanding of Army’s 15 Corps Lieutenant General ADS Aujla said the attempts from across the Line of Control (LoC) to push narcotics were a cause of concern as it was destroying the future generation of Kashmir.

“Social media plays a very important role in this (radicalisation) and that is where the western adversary invests very heavily and that is where the narratives are built, the themes are built…which then are let loose in the environment and caught out by the youngsters here,” Lt Gen Aujla told PTI in an interview last week.

The officer, who has spent a considerable part of his career in Jammu and Kashmir, said besides social media, the local cadres of Jamaat-e-Islami also play a major role in the indoctrination of the youth.

“The local Jamaatis, they also play the major role in radicalising the youngsters. So, a combination of both of these gives them (youths) this high of falling on a wrongful path or joining a tanzeem or picking the weapon and doing something wrong,” he added. Lt Gen Aujla said the youth of Kashmir are otherwise very focussed and brilliant minds.

“It is just that within a large society, there are certain inimical elements who do prey upon certain individuals who are very very vulnerable because of either education or the condition at home or because of the peer pressure. It is primarily the social media, it is the Jamaatis who are there, and to a certain extent the peer group and a little bit about the narcotics which gets them on doing certain wrongs,” he said.

Asked if the neighbouring country was using drones to deliver weapons and narcotics into Kashmir, the officer said terrain of the LoC in the valley makes it a difficult task.

“The geography actually does not permit them to use this technology or equipment in this place. So, from that point, I think, we are decently immune. But, I cannot say for sure that they cannot be used. There are certain places where (they can), but we are pretty robust on ground to take care of any such misadventure by the enemy in this area,” he said.

Lt Gen Aujla said with the type of pressure that is being mounted by investigating agencies like the NIA and the SIA on terror financing networks, the narcotics smuggling has become the source to finance the nefarious deeds of inimical elements.

“From where it was and where it is now, we have put a little bit of check on that, the lid has been put. The agencies and the administration are pretty sensitive to it and many methods, many measures have been put in place to ensure that this particular trend is controlled and captured at the earliest,” he added.

The GoC said the narcotics were “ruining the system and the society”.

“As far as Kashmir is concerned, a lot of youngsters are getting into this kind of a business, both as carriers and in the consumption part as well. That is where some money comes back which is used by the tanzeems to fund their designs,” he said. Lt Gen Aujla said ‘Operation Sadbhavna’ has been a going on with the focus of the army on three major facets.

“The first is education where we put a lot of impetus, a lot of focus is there to enhance the educational reforms to give them top-notch education in whatever way is possible. That is where 28 Army goodwill schools are presently running in the Kashmir valley which is a huge number. It constitutes 11,000 students and if you add the staff, it comes to about 15,000. so, that is the type of families that we are associated with for a long period of time,” he said.

The officer said the other aspect where the Army has invested very heavily is for deradicalisation part is the ‘Sahi Rasta’ (Right Path) programme where the people on the brink of joining terror ranks are brought back to the mainstream. Lt Gen Aujla said the third aspect is narcotics-related where addicts are given medical help and counselling.

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