TRF is a ploy by Pakistan to evade scrutiny, says J&K’s DGP

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh. File   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Security forces say there is nothing alarming about The Resistance Front (TRF) as all attacks carried out by the Pakistan backed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are being pinned on the newly formed “seasonal” group in the Kashmir Valley in order to escape international scrutiny.

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh told The Hindu that TRF, a front of the LeT, was promoted by Pakistan and had been created in August following the reading down of Article 370.

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The TRF had claimed responsibility for the April 5 incident along the Line of Control in the Kupwara sector in North Kashmir, where five army personnel were killed. The army had chased the group of militants for five days after they had infiltrated from across the border and killed five of them, of which two were Pakistanis

“The initial social media chatter and activity around TRF was being pushed by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Karachi,” said Mr. Singh. “This is a bid by the neighbouring country to give the group an indigenous shade; they are all backed by Lashkar-e-Taiba….Pakistan has been smuggling weapons from across the border to arm them,” he asserted.

A group of 7-8 trained foreign militants, who recently infiltrated from across the border, were said to be behind a spike in attacks in North Kashmir, an area that had largely remained incident free in the past decade, an official said. The group is suspected to have attacked a police picket at Wangam in Kupwara on Monday, an atack in which three CRPF men were killed.

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Security agencies assert that the TRF was formed to help Pakistan evade scrutiny by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and avoid further sanctions. The global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog is to review Pakistan’s performance in acting against terror funding at its next meeting in Beijing in June.

A senior government official said that TRF also includes members of the Hizbul Mujahideen, another banned terrorist group.

One of the three militants killed in Kulgam’s Qazigund on April 27 — an attack that was claimed by the TRF — was associated with the Hizbul for many years, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Two other freshly recruited men were also killed in the encounter with security forces.

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The official said the group was mainly concentrated in South Kashmir but the number of locals who had joined the group was not known yet.

“We have information that 2-3 boys who went to Pakistan on visas for educational purposes have also joined the group. There is a concerted effort by Pakistan to lure them to join the TRF, projecting it as a local movement,” said the official.

“TRF is more of a social media sensation. If TRF is suddenly active, can we say that LeT, Hizbul, Jaish and other terror groups backed by Pakistan have become redundant,” the official asked rhetorically.

A third official described the group as an “online project”. “Pakistan wants to project Kashmiri terrorism as a resistance movement by Kashmiris. So far Hizbul and LeT have come under TRF’s umbrella,” the official said.

On March 23, J&K police arrested six members of the group from three districts — Sopore, Kupwara and Handwara in North Kashmir. The group included an engineer, a shopkeeper, a baker and a government hospital employee. Police said the group received instructions from their handler — “Andrew Jones” on Telegram. The handler’s WhatsApp ID was “Khan Bilal”. Huge amount of arms and ammunition smuggled from Pakistan were also recovered. Four of the group are yet to be arrested.

Police had at the time said that the group was not armed with firearms yet, but were involved in grenade attacks and overground activities only.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 10:56:14 PM |

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