Understanding radicalization of the Kashmiri youth

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The Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) has witnessed one of the deadliest attacks on February 14, 2019 when a convoy carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-bound suicide bomber at Lethpora, Pulwama district. The attack resulted in the death of 46 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and the attacker, identified as Adil Ahmad Dar. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, allegedly supported by Pakistan. However, Pakistan has condemned the attack and the militant organization is blacklisted and banned in the country.

Contrary to the allegations placed by India, the new Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government has repeatedly said that the country wants peace with the neighbour and has played a leading role in talks between US & Taliban. It is not new for India to jump to conclusions and blame Pakistan for every terrorist activity held inside its territory and those ignited in IOK. It claims to have “incontrovertible evidence” of Pakistan’s involvement in the terror attack but has failed to provide any.

Even so, India’s own Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar has condemned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claims saying there should be no attempts to politicise the terror incident. He also revealed that as a prime ministerial candidate, Modi used to exhort people in his rallies to replace the UPA government with that of the BJP so that Pakistan could be given a befitting reply for such terror attacks. Hence, it is merely votebank politics being played at the cost of innocent lives.

Instead of blameshifting without legitimate proofs, there is an urgent need to comprehend the root cause of such attacks; which is radicalization of the Kashmiri youth at an alarming rate. According to Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence (CPRLV), radicalization is defined as a process whereby people adopt extremist belief systems—including the willingness to use, encourage or facilitate violence—with the aim of promoting an ideology, political project or cause as a means of social transformation.

Radicalization occurs in the presence of a violent disinhibition that allows it previously. Disinhibition is described by Trujillo and Moyano as the yearning to end one’s own life or that of others, a high negative emotionality (hostility, dislike, aversion, hatred, anger, and tension), and the observational learning of violent behaviour. Similarly, for a subject to act conclusively to commit terrorist acts, usually there is a prior event or circumstance that triggers the radicalization process (e.g., a grievance).

In this case, according to the claims of India Today itself, Adil Ahmad Dar has been radicalised after the troops stopped him and his friends on the way home from school in 2016 where they were beaten up and harassed for being accused of stone-pelting, as confirmed by Dar’s parents. Such is the unfortunate story of thousands of Kashmiri youth facing atrocities in their day to day lives.

These young minds eventually fall prey to the militant groups, which can be supported through the Psychosocial Model of Recruitment and Violent Mobilization (proposed by Trujillo and Moyano) which explains how the recruitment of an individual occurs within a violent group. According to the model, the recruiters register and train the new recruits through the following stages: (1) identification of the individual in perilous environments (marginal scenarios); (2) uptake of the individual in mental imbalance (first approach to the potential recruit); (3) psychological oppression and the consequent psychological alienation; (4) ideological indoctrination of a political and religious nature (doctrinal alienation); (5) violent disinhibition through the application of strategies aimed at legitimizing violence; (6) training for the exercise of violence; and (7) logistical support for the execution of violent actions.

Thus, the extremist attacks in IOK are a distressing reminder that popular sentiment cannot be ignored and oppressed merely because it does not fit in with the nationalist narrative of an unrepresentative government. Human loss is valuable and extremism condemnable where ever it occurs, however if India continues to treat Kashmiri sentiment with violent contempt, the space in between will carry on to be filled by non-state actors who prey on turning political violence into extremism. This incident should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities instead of shaping it in to another exaggerated blame pointing accusing fingers at Pakistan.

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Hamna Malik

Hamna Malik is a writer based in Quetta. She holds her Masters degree in Media and Journalism and is currently working in the Editorial Department of Voice of Balochistan.

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