New Delhi: Nearly 130 youths from Jammu and Kashmir have joined various terror outfits this year, a number highest since 2010, said a data compiled till July 31. Out of the 130, South Kashmir’s Shopian district has contributed the maximum of 35 so far. Last year, a total of 126 youths had joined militancy. This year’s figures were the highest since 2010, a recent data presented in the state assembly and Parliament read.

The report said that a majority of the youths are affiliating themselves with groups ideologically aligned with the Al-Qaeda. The officials say that many youngsters are joining the Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a group which claims support of Al-Qaeda and is headed by Zaqir Rashid Bhat alias Zaqir Musa, who hails from a village in the Tral area of Pulwama district.

The Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s acceptance has lately increased as Musa emerged as the only militant who ended the 27-year-old show of separatists leaders from Hurriyat Conference and threatened them of beheading if they termed Kashmir as a political issue.

The officials who have been monitoring the security situation in the Valley said that another reason for the acceptance of the group is Musa’s slogan of “Shariyat ya Shahadat” (Enforcing Islamic law or death) replacing many age-old pro-Pakistan slogans and who also captured the attention of many in the Valley especially after the death of Burhan Wani.

The reports, however, contradicts the statement Union Minister Hansraj Gangaram Ahir had given in July this year. “As many as 87 local youths have joined militancy in Jammu and Kashmir so far this year,” he had said. He added that since the imposition of Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir, 12 youths were reported to have disappeared and later joined militancy.

The union minister of state for home said the government regularly reviews the security situation in the state and in order to prevent any militant activities numerous have been taken. “The government has also continuously encouraged policies to mainstream the youth, including providing employment opportunities to wean them away from militancy,” he said.