May 2017 News

Who Is Zakir Musa? Why Hizbul Mujahideen Distanced Itself From His 'Islamic Kashmir' Remark

13 May 2017
India Today
Prabhash K Dutta

New Delhi: Zakir Rashid Bhat, better known as Zakir Musa, was portrayed as the new face of terror in Kashmir Valley after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces on July 8 last year. Hizbul Mujahideen made him the successor of Burhan Wani. He is said to be in his early 20s and has risen through the Hizbul rank rapidly. Three years after joining the terror group, he was given charge of terror operations in the Valley. But, like his rise, his downfall in the Hizbul Mujahideen seems to have been equally rapid. A day after threatening separatist leaders of Kashmir with beheading them at the Lal Chowk of Srinagar for calling the issue a political one, Zakir Musa had to quit Hizbul. ENGINEER-TURNED-TERRORIST: Zakir Musa was a student of civil engineering at a Chandigarh college. But he is said to have quit studies before completing the degree and returned to his ancestral home in Pulwama's Noorpura village in 2013. Zakir is said to be hailing from a highly educated family. Most of his siblings are reportedly doctors or pursuing a medical degree somewhere. After dropping out of an engineering college, Zakir Musa joined Hizbul Mujahideen. He was deeply influenced by the jihadi preaching and literature. TARGETS POLICE WITH TWO VIDEOS: Zakir Musa came out with two tapes one after another last year. In the first video tape posted on social media, Zakir threatens the informants of Jammu and Kashmir police. In the over two-minute video, Zakir Musa is threatening the police informants to leave Kashmir. In the second video, Zakir Musa threatened the Jammu and Kashmir police, saying that their families could not feel safe 'just because they live in Jammu'. Following the release of two threatening videos, Jammu and Kashmir police raided the Batipora village of Tral - the hometown of Burhan Wani. Police located the house, where Zakir Musa recorded the videos. Zakir Musa managed to dodge the raiding police team. But police recovered some materials from the house that established Zakir Musa's identity. ANOTHER VIDEO FOR STONE PELTING: In March this year, a 12-minute video surfaced on social media, in which Musa was seen asking the youths of Kashmir to pelt stones at the security forces. Zakir Musa calls Army jawans 'kafirs'. Zakir Musa minced no words in the video to proclaim that he was fighting not for Kashmir, but for an Islamic rule in the Valley. Wearing an Afghan cap, Musa speaks Urdu in the video. He says, 'Whenever we are fighting with gun or throwing rocks, this should not be for nationalism but for Islam.' THE NEW AUDIO TAPE: In the latest audio tape, Zaki Musa took on separatist leaders of the Kashmir Valley. Zakir Musa threatened the separatist leaders for what he called 'interference in the Islamic struggle'. His comments came after some separatist leaders called Kashmir a political issue that needed to be resolved politically. Zakir Musa said in an unverified audio tape that he would chop off the heads of the separatist leaders and hang them at the Lal Chowk in Srinagar. In the audio tape that went viral on social media, Zakir Musa could be heard saying, 'I am warning all those hypocrite Hurriyat leaders. They must not interfere with our Islamic struggle. If they do, we will cut their heads and hang them in Lal Chowk'. Zakir Musa asserted that Hizbul Mujahideen was clear in its motives of 'fighting to impose a Shariat in Kashmir and not resolving the Kashmir issue by calling it a political struggle.' HIZBUL SENSES GROUND REALITY: This comment of Zakir Musa came close on the heels of suspected Hizbul terrorists killing a young Indian Army officer Ummer Fayaz, who hailed from Kulgam district in south Kashmir. The killing of a Kashmiri young Army officer has turned the tide against the terror outfit in the Valley. Under such circumstances, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin - who also heads the umbrella organisation of all Kashmir-oriented terror outfits - could not have afforded to antagonise the separatist leaders of the Valley. The Hizbul chief soon issued a statement - emailed to a local news agency in Kashmir - distancing itself from Zakir Musa's threat terming it condemnable. Salahuddin also issued a gag order asking the terror operatives working in Kashmir Valley to 'consult' him before releasing any statement. Zakir Musa responded by saying that he 'will not die for a secular Kashmir'.

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