Fear Looms Large In Sopore After Terror Diktat

10 June 2015

Srinagar: Kashmir's famous 'apple town' of Sopore is living in fear after terror groups unleash tactics similar to the dreaded ISIS with the locals being ordered to follow their diktats or risk severe punishment. Posters have sprung up in this militancy-infested district of North Kashmir in which a group claiming to be Tehrek-e-Taliban is asking people to follow diktats like shunning mobile phones and watching television. Another diktat that has sent shivers among the locals is that there should be no movement of womenfolk without a 'burqa' (veil). A rogue faction of the banned terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen(HM) is also believed to be running a campaign instilling fear among the people. These developments that have surfaced in the last few weeks have made authorities sit up and take notice. While the diktats seem to be quite similar to what has been seen in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, Director General of Police K Rajendra, known to be an operational man, is monitoring the situation closely and is not taking any chances. 'Whether it's a prank or anything, it needs to be probed. We are already working on it and I am sure to achieve results pretty soon. My best boys are on the job,' Rajendra said on Wednesday. Located 54 km away from Srinagar, Sopore, witnessed the killing of pharmacist Mohammed Altaf Sheikh, an aide of Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, on Tuesday, signalling a possible factional fight within the HM. Police are hot on the trail of Qayuum Nazarwala, who is heading the Hizb group in the Valley and is understood to have turned rogue, as he was suspected to have carried out the killing of Sheikh. Nazarwala, who is a resident of Sopore and has been operating in the region for long, is believed to have fallen out with Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin after the recent attacks on telecom towers, they said. According to intelligence reports, Nazarwala had prepared a list of people whom he claimed were allegedly helping security agencies and government machinery in curbing down the movement of the terror group. However, the same was rejected as it contained names of some prominent Hurriyat and Jamaat leaders whose killing could have earned a bad name for the terror group, the sources said. The killing of Sheikh has added a new dimension since Nazarwala may have turned rogue now and could carry out more killings following the list prepared by him, they said. The situation in Sopore, which had been controlled to a great extent during Kuldeep Khoda's tenure as Director General Police, started deteriorating in late 2014 especially after the floods. A densely populated area, terrorists find Sopore as an easy hideout as it is closer to the National Highway and can be accessed from Handwara forests after giving the army a slip at the Line of Control(LoC). Security officials also believe that a fresh batch of terrorists may have entrenched themselves in this apple town after infiltrating undetected, or the locals could have joined militant outfits like HM and Jaish-e-Mohammed(JeM). There are already reports that nearly 26 local youths have joined militant ranks.