Two years on as Union Territory, Kashmir militancy yet to wane

Growing fears that Taliban takeover of Afghanistan may flip striking capabilities of militant outfits

Updated - August 05, 2021 11:36 am IST

Published - August 04, 2021 11:20 am IST - Srinagar

Jammu and Kashmir Police cordon off area after a police constable and a civilian were injured as militants opened fire at security forces in Khanyar area of the city on Tuesday, August 3, 2021.

Jammu and Kashmir Police cordon off area after a police constable and a civilian were injured as militants opened fire at security forces in Khanyar area of the city on Tuesday, August 3, 2021.

As Jammu and Kashmir completes two years as a Union Territory (UT), militancy remains a major challenge to the security apparatus amid growing fears that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is likely to flip the striking capabilities of the militant outfits, especially the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM).

The Hindu package: Jammu & Kashmir: From a State with autonomy to two Union Territories

The official data accessed by The Hindu suggested that J&K saw 82 militant recruitments in the first seven months, with the JeM’s focus growing on capital Srinagar where it managed local recruits between three to four. Earlier, the JeM would focus on the Pulwama-Awantipora-Tral belt in south Kashmir. In 2020, 163 locals were recruited into the militant ranks.

“JeM’s strength in J&K is 44, including 10 locals and 34 foreigners. We managed to kill seven JeM terrorists so far, including two foreigners and five locals. JeM No.1 and No. 2 were killed recently,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar told The Hindu .

Though more than 60% recruits hail from districts in south Kashmir, there is growing recruitment in capital Srinagar, where frequency of militant attacks saw a major spur this year, and in north Kashmir as well.

In a sustained pressure maintained by the security agencies by launching multiple anti-militancy operations every day, at least 89 militants were killed in J&K so far, including the top brass of most of the militant outfits operating in the Valley. In July, 31 militants were killed in 15 encounters.

However, a fresh list of 10 local militants released by the J&K police again highlighted that local militants continue to command and control the outfits such as the Hizbul Mujahideen, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the The Resistance Front (TRF) in the Valley.

The wanted list included Hizb chief Farooq Nali, LeT chief Riyaz Ahmad Dar and TRF chief Abbas Sheikh.

According to the police record, Sheikh, a resident of Rampora Qaimoh in Kulgam, is the ‘operational chief commander’ of the TRF and is involved in more than 30 FIRs. “Sheikh is a recycled terrorist and has recycled twice in year 2005 and 2015. He is an expert in recruiting local youth into terror ranks, especially in district Srinagar,” a police report said.

A recycled militant is one who is arrested for his activities and jailed, but rejoins the militant ranks after his release.

Dar alias Sheeraz alias Khalid from Sathergund in Pulwama is active since 2015 and at present is the ‘operational chief commander’ of the LeT. “He is known to escape from cordons and is involved in more than 10 FIRs,” the report said.

Hizb’s Bhat alias Nali from Check Desand in Yaripora, according to the police, is ‘operational commander’ of South Kashmir range and figures in more than 25 FIRs. “He is expert in IED preparing and planting,” the report says.

Among the wanted militants is Zubair Ahmad Wani from Deruna in Anantnag. Wani has a master’s degree in arts and also completed M. Phil. “He has visited many States of India,” the police records suggest.

Assessing Afghan fallout

Meanwhile, multiple security agencies were working on an on-ground assessment of the likely fallout of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

A police officer suggested fears were growing within the security apparatus over the JeM and the HuM augmenting its striking capabilities. “Both the outfits are known for spectacle attacks in Kashmir. These two outfits have its cadres fighting along with Taliban in Afghanistan. Once the Taliban takeover of Kabul is complete, the fallout is likely to grow starker,” he added.

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