Faced with people in Kashmir increasingly refusing to give them refuge, terrorists are going back to taking shelter in mosques and madrassas that help them evade security forces and provide them with a school of young minds indoctrinate, officials said on Monday.

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The people’s reluctance to help terrorists and the Government’s decision to heighten the vigil and seize any house that shelters militants have led to terror groups adopting their old tactic.

According to the officials, sustained efforts by both the Government and security forces have effected a major change in the way the common people in Kashmir look at the terrorism and radical ideology being propagated from Pakistan. As a result, they are no longer inclined to provide shelter and other aid to terrorists.

In the early 1990s, terrorists often hid in the Hazratbal Shrine and Charar-e-Sharief, leading to massive stand-offs with security forces.

An analysis of recent encounters, particularly in south Kashmir, conducted by security forces revealed that Pakistan-sponsored terrorists are again using places of worship and religious schools as shelters.

In the past few weeks, the officials said this disturbing trend was visible in three encounters in Kulgam, Naina Batpora and Chiva Kalan.

Terrorists had deliberately taken shelter in mosques and madrassas to avoid detection and incite religious sentiments by instigating the use of force or firing by security forces.

Rauf, a terrorist, apprehended by the Army in the Pulwama district of south Kashmir recently, told his interrogators that they had been taking shelter in a mosque and posing as preachers whenever the security forces closed in on them, the officials said.

Two Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, who were killed in the encounter in Chiva Kalan in Pulwama district, had been hiding inside a mosque. One of the slain terrorists was a Pakistani national.

Maulvi Naseer Ahmed Malik set up this madrassa in 2020, and before that, he was an imam at Jamia Masjid in Chiva Kalan for six to seven years.

Simultaneously, he used to impart religious teachings to young children of the village aged between 4 and 10 years.

Since 2016, Malik has collected ‘zakat’ (donation) from several villages in Pulwama, Budgam, Srinagar, Kulgam and Anantnag districts.

The suspicion that he might be using the donations to help Pakistan-sponsored terrorists was proved right by documents recovered from the encounter site in Chiva Kalan.

It was also found that the terrorists killed at the madrassa were residing there for at least two months.

The officials said that Malik had been booked under the Public Safety Act and moved out of the valley.

According to the security forces, the madrassa was used by dreaded terrorists to carry out atrocities and attacks targeting local Kashmiri people and misguide Kashmiri children and youths.

Alarmed by the indoctrination of these young minds, security forces have been holding special camps to make their parents aware of the threat of the use of religious places for the indoctrination of their children.

“If this is the way terrorists in the valley are going to target young impressionable minds while the common Kashmiri parents are kept in the dark by the very teachers they trust the lives of their children with, the future of the next generation of Kashmir is anything but safe,” an official said, highlighting the grave threat.

The officials urged the people of Kashmiri to raise their voices against these acts and save their children from falling prey to this vicious cycle of terror.