They are suave, wear sporty looks and like to take selfies — an unconventional new generation of Kashmir militants is keeping the security agencies on tenterhooks, with two young militants daring to survey capital Srinagar and take photos in posh colonies.
The Jammu and Kashmir police have stumbled upon pictures of two militants of the Hizbul Mujahideen — Wasim Malla (27) and Zakir Ahmad Bhat (25) — who apparently surveyed Srinagar recently. They also took pictures in trendy wear — jeans, sunglasses and hi-end sports shoes, besides flaunting cellphones.
The police have started an investigation into the “open presence of militants in the urban pockets”.
“We are trying to identify the location and know their designs,” said a counter-insurgency cop.
Malla, a second-year Bachelor of Arts student, and Bhat, with a degree in Bachelor of Technology, are the new faces of Kashmir militancy, who sport no flowing beard but are “ideologically wedded”, sources said.
Roping in youth
A top counter-insurgency cop admitted to The Hindu that 22-year-old Burhan Wani, a young Hizb commander from south Kashmir’s Tral area, has succeeded in galvanising support and infusing young blood, of around 35 boys, into the outfit in south Kashmir, to make it the number one outfit in the State, leaving behind Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Both from well-to-do families, Malla, son of an orchard owner, and Bhat, son of a senior government engineer, are from south Kashmir’s Shopian and Tral.
Malla, alias Inam-ul-Haq, with Jamaat-e-Islami leanings, was first arrested in 2010 in an improvised explosive device case. He was released after six months.
After staying silent for two years under police surveillance, Malla became an active militant in 2012.
Malla’s first target was a minority picket in Shopian’s Pargoza village where, according to the police, he decamped with three service rifles to join the Hizb ranks, at a time when weapons within the outfit was depleting fast due to tighter security on the Line of Control. According to the police, he was behind the killing of three cops in Shopian on April 6 this year.
Bhat was only 22 years old when he joined the Hizb in 2013. He was motivated by the 2010 street uprising, which left 113 protesters, mainly young boys dead. Since then, he is on the run with other young militants working under the patronage of Burhan Wani.
Wani is relying heavily on online sites to reach out to the youth. He has already come up with several videos, warning locals to desist from “anti-movement” activities and stressing on “following the true Islamic path.” He has bombarded the social networking sites with selfies and group photos, forcing the police to bring down several Facebook accounts to stop its circulation.