2018 In J&K: Local Terror Recruits Rise To 191, Most From South Kashmir; Security Forces Eliminate 257 TerroristsArmy soldiers near an encounter site in Srinagar (Representative image) (Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Up to 191 local youths picked up arms and joined terrorist groups last year in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), a rise of 65 compared to the year before, according to army sources, reports DefenceNews.

“The new recruits mostly hailed from the restive south Kashmir region,” stated the official quoted in the report.

The South Kashmir region includes districts like Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag. The official said that this area had turned into a breeding ground for militancy as a large number of local youths were being recruited into terrorist organisations.

Some 126 locals from J&K had taken up arms in favour of the insurgency in 2017.

The 2018 figure for South Kashmir alone is higher at 139.

The rise in terror recruits is even sharper when compared to 2016 when only 88 Kashmir youths had joined terrorist ranks. The rise seems to be part of an upward trend for the last several years as in 2014 the number of local recruits was only 53 which rose to 66 in 2015.

The district which provided the most recruits for terror outfits was Pulwama, with 59 youths picking up arms there.

The main insurgent groups benefiting from the uptick in recruits are Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“The data is based on technical and human intelligence, besides interrogation reports of militants arrested during various counter-insurgency operations in the valley,” the official explained.

The number of terrorists eliminated by security forces has also risen. “As many as 257 militants were killed across Jammu and Kashmir in 2018,” Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh had revealed in December, promising a continuation of counter-insurgency efforts in 2019 with a large focus on improving border strength and creating more security in the hinterland.

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