Kashmir Heading For Stepped Up Militancy

29 June 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: The 'splinter' group of Hizbul Mujahideen headed by one of the oldest surviving militants in Kashmir - Qayoom Najjar - is turning out to be a new hardline militant group in Kashmir with militants from other outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) rallying around it. Police blames Najjar's group for attacks on telecom companies in which two people were killed and four others were injured, leading to breakdown of telecommunications for some days in Kashmir valley last month. Police also holds them responsible for killings of four activists of Hurriyat Conference (G) and former militants in Sopore area early this month. Earlier, police and other security agencies claimed that the group is restricted to Sopore area only and is a splinter group of Hizbul Mujahideen that has serious differences with its leadership and some Hurriyat Conference leaders. Now, sources revealed that the group has already spread its tentacles in Srinagar and South Kashmir and is emerging as a new militant group in Kashmir valley that will pose a major security challenge to the Government in future. Security agencies have apprehensions that a large numbers of self-radicalised youth can join them in future, making this group one of the powerful militant groups in Kashmir valley. The group has also several JeM militants from Pakistan with them and they are expecting more JeM militants to join them later this year. Sources said that large number of JeM militants are waiting for infiltration at the launch pads along the Line of Control (LoC). Sources said that Najjar with the support of some hardliners in Hizbul Mujahideen were for last two years asking for stepping up of the militant activities in Kashmir but the top leadership was against it. Sources said Najjar has written four letters to Hizbul Mujahideen chief, Syed Salahudin, seeking answers for activities of some of the members within the group and some separatists. However, he didn't get any positive response from his chief leading to a breaking away. Sources said that the last conversation between Najjar and Salahudin had taken place in October last year. The conversation with Salahudin speaks about his difference with the chief commander. Najjar who is heading the group, is one of longest surviving militants in Kashmir. He had joined militancy in 1996 and was arrested and released later. He is active since 2006 after he rejoined the ranks. Police blamed him for all the major militancy related incidents in North Kashmir since 2006 and for the killing of former Hizbul Mujahideen commander in chief, Abdul Majid Dar, who signed a peace deal with Centre in 2000 after announcing ceasefire. Dar was gunned down in 2003, three years later. Security agencies of late don't know much about Najjar as he is extremely cautious of using communication devices. Even they don't have his latest picture and the one displayed on a poster by police early this month turned out to be that of a Kupwara businessman. The group is not using any cell phones through which maximum militants were trapped and killed by security forces since 2003. The group believed in selective human couriers. Sources said there is no intercept that suggests that the group uses cell phones or other traceable communication devices. Abandoning the use of traceable communication devices by the group has made security agencies task of tracking them very difficult. Sources said that it is the reason that the security force's major offensive against the group has failed to make any break through so far. Around 600 fresh Army troops and policemen specialized in counter-insurgency operations are searching the members of the group in Sopore area. The security operations have led to panic in entire Sopore area of North Kashmir where people feel return of 1990 like situation. Army's 22RR, 52RR,27 RR, 199, 179 battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police today cordoned off Tujjar Sharief, Bomai, Cherhar, Shiva, Dooru, Dangarpora, Mehrajpora, Tarzoo, Hatishah, Ningli, Model Town, Hygam and Zaloora forests and conducted searches in these areas but no traces of these militants have been found. The security forces were also checking vehicles at Pattan, Kansipora Baramulla, Amargadh, Fruit Mandi road, Model town and Warpora crossing in Sopore area throughout the day. The vehicles were being stopped at these places and passengers frisked. These kinds of search operations and frisking is going on for past two weeks now but sources said that majority of the members of the group have fled Sopore area.