The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has announced that its 24×7 toll-free helpline number 14411—called ‘Madadgaar’—for local Kashmiri residents will also be available for those who want to leave the ranks of militant organizations.
Following the high-profile surrender of footballer turned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Majid Khan, the CRPF hopes that young Kashmiris in militant groups will avail of this toll-free number if they seek a return to the mainstream. “I feel we are at a phase where a lot of boys want to come back. We want to assure that anyone who has joined militancy is free to come back. We want the youth, who have joined militancy, to return,” CRPF Inspector General (IG), operations, Kashmir, Zulfiqar Hassan, said during a press briefing in Srinagar.
As part of an exercise to better engage with the local population, the CRPF had launched ‘Madadgaar’ in June. Local residents could use this helpline number for a range of complaints from career counselling, medical assistance to transport services and other day-to-day concerns.
Authorities in the security establishment argue that many of these young Kashmiris stuck in the ranks of militant organisations do not really know how to come back, and in such circumstances, this helpline could aid the process. “I want to tell them that there is a helpline ‘Madadgaar’ (14411) as well as helpline numbers of the police and the Army so that friends or families or the militant himself can contact us if he wants to return,” Hassan added. “We will ensure they face no harassment.”
More than the presence of foreign militants, it is reports of approximately 40 new recruits joining militant groups in the past three months that has proven to be a major concern for Indian security forces and the State government.
Last month, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told police personnel to ensure that more militants surrender and avoid any sort of retaliatory action against their families. She argued that militancy will not end by killing more militants, but by winning the hearts and minds of the people. Police personnel would receive double the reward money if they get militants to surrender, instead of killing them, the chief minister said.