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Kashmir’s Teenage Militants

Brig Narender writes, the killing of teenage terrorists in Kashmir has triggered a debate whether it was ethically correct for the security forces to kill young boys or they should have been given a chance to surrender. It also brings in question the role of parents, teachers and religious leaders.

On 09 December 2018 two teenagers — Mudasir Rashid Parray, 14, and Saqib Bilal Sheikh, 16 — were killed by security forces in a gun battle. The killing of teenage terrorists has triggered a debate whether it was ethically correct for the security forces to kill these young boys or they should have been given a chance to surrender. Some suggested that efforts should have been made to arrest them instead of killing them. Abdul Basit a local from Kashmir asserted that “It shows that the state is at war with the people.”

It throws up many questions if security forces were ethically wrong in elimination of these teenagers or the society and parents failed to prevent these boys to join the terror ranks? If the parents are not aware what the children are up to, it is incorrect to blame the government. Parenting is not the responsibility of the government or the security forces. It is parents that have failed in the first place. Second, failure should be attributed to teachers. It is not possible that the teachers don’t know what the students are up to. Thus it is their duty to keep parents informed what their children are doing. Third, the friends and peers who normally know what their friends are doing and whom are they meeting. It is also the responsibility of the peers to inform parents or relative about the undesirable interaction. But more important is the role of ideologues and recruiter who have destroyed the lives of these young children and led them on the path of self-destruction.

As per normal practice every parent is persuaded by the security forces to bring back the child so that he can lead a normal life rather than getting eliminated. Almost on everyday basis parents are advised, requested and assured safety of their child to bring back him back from the clutches of terror outfits. But I have yet to come across any social worker or Mollvi who persuaded children/ youth to return back to main stream. There is hardly any example where a surrender or arrest was executed through a religious leader, seminary or social worker. Thus all those who lecture what government and security forces should do must look inward why don’t they take up this responsibility of bringing their children back from the brink?

In 95% cases the identity of terrorists hiding inside a house or hideout is not known when operation or encounter begins. In most cases identity is established only when terrorists bodies are recovered. Even during the encounter efforts are made to ask the terrorists to surrender, but the foreign terrorists and leaders do not allow the weak and younger terrorists to surrender or get arrested. Invariably the terrorist’s commanders and the ideologues sitting across are in constant touch with those who are engaged in an encounter. They are guided what to do and encouraged to become martyr than to surrender. In addition terror recruits are often under constant threat, that, if they surrender the family members will face the consequences, as a result most of the family members desist from asking their children to return back.

The cycle of recruitment of these young children can be broken by parents, teachers and religious leaders. But if they fail to do so government can’t take up their responsibility. What government can assure is rehabilitation and an opportunity to lead a dignified life post surrender. It is important for the Kashmiri society to take up the responsibility of breaking the cycle of violence by preventing youth to take the path of the violence. The ethical question of allowing the children to die for a violent cause should therefore be asked from the parents, religious leaders, school or college teachers and civil society.

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