Terror groups operating in the Kashmir Valley have taken to beheading, which has been the modus operandi of Islamic State (IS). Killing of Manzoor Ahmed Bhat indicates it clearly.
Abdul Gaffar mourns the killing of his son Bhat Manzoor Ahmed Bhat who was abducted,
and later killed by terrorists
The few words that struck one’s mind while thinking about Kashmir are violence, stone-pelting, encounter and terrorist attack, which have become a part of common man’s life in the Valley.
The intervening night of April 4 and 5 came as a nightmare for the family of Abdul Gaffar Bhat as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists barged into his house of Abdul Gaffar Bhat in Hajin area of Bandipora District and started beating the family members. The terrorists then kidnapped Bhat and his son Manzoor Ahmad, but gunshots wounded Abdul somehow managed to escape from the clutches of the terrorists.
Taking a cue from cruelties perpetuated by the Islamic State, LeT terrorists beheaded a young shepherd Manzoor Ahmad Bhat and threw his headless body on the outskirts of Bandipora District of North Kashmir on April 6. While the police blamed LeT for the brutal killing, the terrorist organisation denied its role in the beheading of the youth.
After contacting several persons from Hajin, the source said that nobody in the area wants to talk about the horrendous killing of Manzoor but on condition of anonymity, one local man said, “Manzoor had been on target since long. He was killed because he was acting as an informer of Indian military and thus he paid the price for being loyal to his land i.e India. Earlier also he was threatened and warned by the militants to stop being an informer of Indian soldiers. Informers have always been on target of terrorists. Several people have been picked up and tortured by the militants in the last few years but most are freed after being beaten.”
“IS is now an ideology that has no boundaries. Its physical footprints are not important. It can be spread through many ways and in this local Maulvis are helping them. Social media has become an easy tool for them to radicalise the youth of the Valley and influence them with their ideology"
Brig Anil Gupta, Security and Strategic Analyst
“There is an atmosphere of fear after the killing of Manzoor. Even there is no protest against this killing anywhere in the Valley”, he added. Perhaps, this was the purpose of this IS style operation.
The silence in the Valley as well as rest of Bharat over the brutal beheading is stunning. For a change, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah hits out at the separatists for not condemning the killing of civilians by the militants in his tweet, “Any shutdown call or call for peaceful protests for Manzoor Ahmed whose decapitated body was found in North Kashmir after he had been abducted & killed by militants? No? I’m not surprised”.
According to the police, the kidnapping and beheading of Manzoor was masterminded by Mohammad Saleem Parrey of Hajin, who had become a militant last year and joined Lashkar. Saleem Parrey was also involved in recent kidnapping and killing of Naseer Ahmad Parray on April 3.
The discovery of Manzoor’s headless body has stirred terror in the entire Hajin belt once again. This is not the first time any headless body has been found in Hajin area. Last year on August 27, a headless body of a youth was recovered from the Jhelum River which was later identified as that of Muzaffar Ahmad Parray alias Muzaffar Nata of Hajin area.
The area has seen a major upsurge in number of militants over the last two years especially after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani. Hajin turns out as a base for LeT in recent times.
In a major crackdown in November last year, six top Pakistani Lashkar militants, including Obaid, son of Jamat-ud-Dawah Abdul Rehman Makki and nephew of Mumbai attack mastermind Zakir Rehman Lakhvi, were killed by the security officials in Hajin. Later in the month of January, Abu Musaib, another nephew of Lakhvi, was also killed in a gunfight in Hajin. After that, security forces had claimed the killings of top Lashkar terrorists would clean up the area. However, with the killing of Naseer and Manzoor, it appears that the Lashkar has regrouped in Hajin.
Footprints of Islamic State
Kashmiri youth displaying IS flag after Friday Prayer
Time and again the theory of Islamic state’s presence in the Valley has been denied by the Centre as well as the Jammu & Kashmir Government. But the way the recent killing of civilians took place, it is not easy to ignore the fact that IS has set its footprints in the Valley. One can find the IS flags at several places in Kashmir. In fact many times ISIS flags have been unfurled amid pro-freedom and anti-India sloganeering outside Masjids in the Valley after Friday prayers.
IS have made a name of theirs by making a dreadful style of killing that can give a chill in the spine of a common man. Jammu & Kashmir based, security and strategic analyst Brig (Retd) Anil Gupta expressed his deep concern over the recent beheading of a Kashmiri youth. While talking to Organiser, he said, “There is no such ISIS cadre in the Valley but yes all the terrorist organisations are now influenced by the IS. The IS terrorists are now part of other terrorist organisations too carrying their style of brutality. Their only agenda is “Universal Jihad”.
Here are some major brutal incidents that happened in the past:
- Dolly Mohi-ud-Din was kidnapped on May 5, 1990, and was gang-raped by JKLF terrorists for two days and they killed her
- Sarla Bhatt, a Staff Nurse in Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar, was kidnapped from the Hostel of the Institute on April 14, 1990, by a group of JKLF terrorists. She was raped for several days before she was killed by the terrorists
- Terrorists intruded into the house of Sohan lal Braroo and killed him and then went on Gang-raping his daughter and wife. The daughter Archana, died during the rape and the wife was shot and killed after the rape.
- Fareeda was abducted from her house by the terrorists in 1993, and her dead body was found later
- Terrorists abducted TV Artist Shamima from her home on June 16, 1993, and killed her
He continued, “IS is now an ideology that has no boundaries. Its physical footprints are not important. It can be spread through many ways and in this local Maulvis are helping them. Social media has become an easy tool for them to radicalise the youth of the Valley and influence them with their ideology.” Is IS the new Al-Qaeda which sets the course of action for the global jihad without any physical presence? Last year, Amaq news agency, a news outlet linked to the IS, claimed that the terrorist group was behind the attack in Zakura area of Srinagar on November 17 in which a sub-inspector was martyred and several police officer were injured.
One important thing to notice is that in early 2016, the IS had announced its intention to expand into Kashmir as part of its broader Khorasan branch. And at that time security officials too had expressed concern over the displaying of IS flags during the protest rallies in Kashmir. Brig Gupta emphasised that the improved technologies have facilitated better integration among the terror groups. Growing solidarity among the Muslims across the globe has given a spur to regional resistance movements, like the one in Kashmir. In future, we will have to prepare ourselves for the worst situation like drone attacks, human bombs and many more.
Time and again the theory of Islamic state’s presence in the Valley has been denied by the Centre as well as the Jammu & Kashmir Government. But the way the recent killing of civilians took place, it is not easy to ignore the fact that IS has set its footprints in the Valley
BJP MLC from Srinagar Surinder Ambardar informed to Organiser, “There is a drastic change in the ISI Kashmir strategy, it has added two more volumes. The first is civil militant demonstration that is why a section of Jammat Islamia and Hurriyat people are seen promoting rebel nostalgic through madrasas and mosques. The massive mob gathering in the funeral procession of terrorists is the visible outcome. Second, the most dangerous aspect of their operational strategy is to create fear to de-moralise the voice of dissent besides continuously ceasefire violation and infiltration. The IS tactics are being experimented to shield and shelter harbours, couriers and over ground workers.
Shopian, a New Hotbed
The district once known for its golden apples, is now a new hotbed of the terrorists after Hajin. If records are to be believed there is a three-fold rise in militant numbers in Shopian in the last one year. According to data given by a leading newspaper, from eight local militants at the time of Wani’s killing on July 8, 2016, the number now stands at over 46. While 29 militants, including 12 on April 1, have been killed in the district in this period in operations by security forces, the number of local militants still hovers around 25. It is said that almost all of the dead militants took up arms after Wani’s killing.
Surprisingly, in one of the biggest anti-militancy operations in the Valley in the recent times on April 1, when 12 militants were killed, 11 of them belonged to Shopian area. On request of anonymity, a senior police officer from South Kashmir revealed to the Weekly, “It is under Mehbooba Government, that militants are on the rise in South Kashmir. PDP politicians are openly supporting the militants and their cause. If you remember, in 2008, even some districts of South Kashmir were declared ‘militant free’ but again under Mehbooba, Shopian and nearby areas have emerged as a militant stronghold.”
The beheading of Manzoor has crossed all levels of barbarity and it seems that other terror groups, including those supported by Pakistan have adopted the modus operandi and learnt lessons from the IS. The gory killing of Manzoor and Nazeer will open a new chapter of relationship between the separatists and their masters in Pakistan.