June 2018 News

Is A Multitude Of Militant Groups Staging Revival In Kashmir?

3 June 2018
Greater Kashmir
Khalid Gul

Srinagar: On May 31 a science graduate from Shopian announced his rebellion in the now familiar signature way, by posting a picture of his on social media, posing with an AK rifle. But Aijaz Ahmed Paul, the inscription of the photo said, has joined Al Badr Mujahideen, a militant group that has had no trace in Kashmir for a decade now, and signals revival of the militant group. Three more youth from southern Kashmir are believed to have joined the Al Badr Mujahideen or Paul. Among them Sameer Ahmad Seh alias Waqas Bhai, a BA final year student and a native of Sugan village of Zainapora - home to Hizb commander Zeenatul Islam. The other two include a postgraduate in Urdu, Nawaz Ahmad Wagay from Reban -Zainapora-Shopian and Tauseef Ahmad Wani, a graduate from Nowpora Payeen village of Pulwama. The renewed Al Badr Mujahideen group now has at least four members. The group first made its entry into Kashmir in 1998 prior to which it had fought alongside anti-Soviet Mujahideen forces as a part of Gulbudin Hikmatyar's Hizb-I-Islami. So, Paul and Al Badr Mujahideen appear to be following a style started by Hizbul Mujahideen when Burhan Wani commanded the group, and later followed by Lashkar-eTioba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. Interestingly, the science student from Losedanew village in Imamsahab, Paul has adopted Salah-u-din Bhai as his nom de guerre, similar to that Hizbsupremo and head of the United Jihad Council or UJC. A senior police official acknowledged the Al Badr group was not an entity on the map of militancy anymore and that its revival appeared to be a reflection of a leadership crisis in other militant groups. 'Even as we arrested a group of youth in northern Kashmir affiliated to Al Badr attempting to cross over (into PAK) few months back but the outfit's presence had been insignificant since a decade now,' he said. 'During the past few years most of the top commanders of LeT, Hizb and Jaish have been killed in different encounters. There are very few known names in the militant ranks now and hence the need for proliferation of new outfits.' The police official further said prior to Al Badr it was TehreekulMujahideen (TeM) which returned to armed militancy. TeM, which was active during 1990s and drew its cadre from Alhi Hadith school of thought, was revived from Srinagar in 2015 under the command of Mugais Ahmad Mir. After Mir, a resident of Srinagar who was killed in a shootout last year, DawoodSalafi took over leadership of TeM. The outfit owed allegiance to a global Jihad organization IS (Daesh).However, its chief in Pakistan-administered Kashmir Jamil -ul-Rehman has time and again disowned ISIS terming it as a ploy to defame the freedom movement. IS however, has owned several attacks on policemen on its propaganda channel Amaq. ZakirMoosa, who parted ways with Hizb last year to form his own militant outfit AnsarGhazwatul Hind owes allegiance to Al Qaeda and mostly operated around Awantipora police district including restive Tral. The outfit, according to security sources has some dozen boys active in its ranks. However, as of now DawoodSalafi is the lone one left in JK-IS as four of his associates were killed in recent encounters. 'The two outfits, Ansar and IS have been critical of the policies of Pakistani state and have time and again through their channels claimed that their struggle was for establishment of Islamic state and not for nationalism,' the security official said. 'So, this might also be the reason that more pro-Pakistan organisations are coming up.' A few months earlier, police claimed to have busted an over ground worker (OGW) module of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit in northern Kashmir, another militant group that was no more on the scene in Kashmir since 2000. 'JeM has come on forefront of militancy in Kashmir since last year after LeT lost some of its top commanders from Pakistan like Abu Qasim, Abu Dujana and Abu Ismail. The outfit which operated alongside Hizb in southern Kashmir also lost the top local commanders like MajidZargar, ShowkatTak, JunaidMatoo and AyubLelhari,' a police official said. He said Hizb still remains the largest outfit operating in Kashmir.