More than militancy, it looks like a crude attempt at extortion and spreading fear: police
Posters, typeset in Urdu on behalf of the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, have spread a wave of terror in South Kashmir even as the police on Friday registered the First Information Report (FIR) here.
A militant bastion from 1990 to 1994, and an Ikhwanul Muslimoon and Muslim Mujahideen stronghold from 1995 to 1997, Anantnag has been a peaceful town for the last over 10 years.
The laser-printed posters, warning people against liaising with the police and mainstream politicians, appeared mysteriously before Sehri on Friday morning at the Jamia Masjid Hanfia, the Jamia Masjid Ahl-e-Hadith and the Rahat Dedi Masjid Lalchowk. The posters were unsigned and unstamped, but threatened as many as 33 residents by name.
“If the below mentioned persons do not return to the right path, they will be responsible for any damage to their life and property,” the posters, issued in the name of ‘Major Saquib District Commander Hizbul Mujahideen’, read.
Local journalist Maqbool Veeray and several other residents claimed that the same posters were also found pasted on walls at three more places in the town — a major junction on the heavily-guarded Amarnath pilgrimage route.
“These posters have spread fear among as many of those warned by name did not attend the day’s prayers at their neighbourhood mosques. Some of them have gone underground to hide themselves from a possible guerrilla strike,” Mr. Veeray told The Hindu.
Terror strike not likely
Deputy Inspector General (DIG), South Kashmir, Vijay Kumar claimed that there was little possibility of a terrorist strike as the police and the Army had a “very good intelligence network” and a thick security cover was protecting the Yatra. “We have launched fresh efforts to apprehend Major Saquib,” the DIG asserted. He revealed that Major Saquib was the code name of Mubarak Ahmad Wani of Bangidara, who was first arrested in 2007 and twice subsequently. Every time he got bail. Senior Superintendent of Police Ramesh Kumar Jhalla added that Major Saquib was arrested and detained under Public Safety Act but each time the charges were quashed by a court.
Earlier this year, he disappeared from a court when a case against him was listed for the hearing. An FIR was filed against him on Friday under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Mr. Jhalla said police had begun investigating into the matter. “But, I am least sure that these posters are real and this is a handiwork of Hizbul Mujahideen,” he said. “More than militancy, it looks like a crude attempt at extortion and spreading fear.
Locals doubt posters
Residents such as Suhail Ahmad of Chinichowk have their own doubts regarding the veracity of the posters. On the top of the list is the name of a junior Peoples Democratic Party activist.
Among the others named are: National Conference MP Mehboob Beg’s PA, Congress leader Hilal Shah’s two associates, a defeated Assembly election candidate, a lawyer and an editor and owner of a cable-TV channel. Most of the people named are shopkeepers and traders.