The reason behind the abrupt increase in the incidents of banks and ATM robberies and snatching weapons from security personnel is likely the rise in the number of local youths joining militancy, who are short of funds.
Reports suggest that in the past seven months, militants have looted more than Rs 1 crore from banks and ATMs in 13 such incidents – all of them concentrated in south Kashmir.
Over the last few months, particularly since demonetisation, there has been a significant spike in cases of bank and ATM robberies.
Short of money to buy weapons and pay their over-ground workers, the Hizbul and Lashkar terrorists are striking out at banks, which are also symbols of establishment.
Times of India, in its report, cited sources in the intelligence agencies saying that 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,” an officer was quoted by Times of India as saying.
According to sources, Pakistan encourages militants to loot banks and snatch weapons as by doing so, it maintains 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’.
According to the report, recent estimates show that local militants comprise 80 per cent 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.