May 2018 News

3 Yrs On, 'Burhan Gang' Almost Busted

6 May 2018
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ishfaq Tantry

Srinagar: Slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani's famous group photo had 11 militants in it. Three years down the line, only one ultra from the group is alive, the rest have been neutralised. With the killing of Hizb commander Saddam Padder, now only Anees, alias Lateef Tiger, survives and remains active from the infamous 'Burhan gang'. In a photograph that went viral on social media in June 2015, 11 local militants had posed along with arms and ammunition, with Burhan in the centre, to announce the birth of 'new-age militancy' in Kashmir. The killing of Burhan on July 7, 2016, in an encounter in the Kokernag area of south Kashmir plunged the Valley into months of unrest and saw an increasing number of local youth joining militancy. It was the image of Burhan surrounded by 10 armed aides that had caught the imagination of the local youth and also the attention of the security forces, setting off an unending cycle of violence in the Valley. Hizb commander Saddam Padder, who was killed along with four other militants in a Shopian village on Sunday, had also posed in the picture along with Burhan. 'Now only one militant remains alive from the group. He is Lateef Ahmad Dar, alias Lateef Tiger, and hails from Dogripora, Pulwama,' a police official said. Sources in the police said Lateef was currently associated with Hizb commander Riyaz Naikaoo. Besides Lateef, there's another man from the group, Tariq Khanday, who is alive. He had, however, renounced militancy after surrendering before the security forces, the sources added. 11-member group : * Burhan Wani of Tral joined Hizb in 2010, killed in 2016 * Saddam Padder of Shopian joined in 2014, killed on May 6, 2018 * Sabzar Bhat of Tral joined in 2015, killed in 2017 * Waseem Malla of Shopian joined in 2012, killed in 2015 * Naseer Pandit, a police constable of Pulwama, joined in 2015, killed in 2016 * Ishfaq Hameed of Anantnag joined in 2015, killed in 2016 * Tariq Pandit of Pulwama joined in 2015. Is still alive. Gave up militancy after getting captured in 2016 * Afaaqullah Bhat of Pulwama joined in 2015, killed in 2015 * Adil Khanday of Shopian joined in 2012, killed in 2015 * Waseem Shah of Shopian joined in 2014, killed in 2017 * Named Anees in photograph, the 11th militant in the group, is still active. He is now referred to as Lateef Dar, alias Lateef Tiger