Jammu: The recent spate of bank robberies in the Valley is being attributed to local youths who have joined militancy and are short of funds and weapons.
According to data accessed by TOI, there have been 13 bank robberies and burglaries and 9 such attempts across the Valley after the demonetisation announcement on November 8. In most cases, the target was J&K bank which has the largest network of branches across the Valley.
A total of Rs 90.87 lakh was robbed from banks such as J&K Bank, SBI, Axis Bank and Ellaqui Dehat Bank between November 21, 2016 and May 3, 2017.
Of the 9 attempts between December 8, 2016 and May 1, 2017, seven targeted J&K Bank branches across Budgam, Anantnag and Kulgam, while one each was reported at Ellaqui Dehat Bank in Pulwama and SBI in Shopian.
Sources in the intelligence agencies said cash and weapon snatching incidents are on the rise in the Valley as there is a far larger component of local recruits among the 200-odd active militants.
“Before November 8, there were several cash hoards that militants had access to and the number of militants were smaller,” said an officer. They said Pakistan is encouraging looting of banks to access cash as well as snatching of weapons as it helps it maintain deniability of its role as a sponsor of terrorism in J&K and project it as homegrown militancy. Also, Pakistan-inspired cyber propaganda has been spreading the word that acquiring resources through robbery is justified by religion, referring to it as ‘maal-e-ghanimat’.
Recent estimates show that local militants comprise 80% of the total terrorists’ active in the Valley. Though terror funding from across the border is in small amounts of cash and mostly in kind, larger sums are received either through money laundering or as funding to separatists. The lion’s share of terror funding from Pakistan goes into terror training, weapons and cyber propaganda.
Sources in J&K police claimed efforts to send weapons and terror funds in cash from Pakistan were being actively neutralised by the Indian security personnel, causing a cash crunch among local militants. One of the most prominent actions against terror funding was freezing of bank accounts of conduit Nasir Shafi Mir, who was an alleged gobetween for raising and transferring funds to separatists and militants.
While J&K Bank has reduced unnecessary and lessprotected cash movements and limited dealings in cash, the state police is working on identifying the perpetrators and planners of the recent spate of bank robberies.