Sunday, 21 July 2013

Nine Most Wanted Rebels Leading Kashmir Militancy, Azhar Qadri

Nine Most Wanted Rebels Leading Kashmir Militancy
Azhar Qadri

SRINAGAR: Nine ‘most wanted’ militants, including five locals and four Pakistanis, who operate from various parts of south, central and north Kashmir, are leading militancy in the region. All the militants are of the rank of commander and belong to Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

No other militant outfit, whose numbers once ranged in dozens, is active in the region, according to police records.

In recent years, militancy had receded to record levels in Kashmir as most of the commanders and cadres of militant outfits were killed in gunfights, diminishing their capacity to carry out large-scale attacks.

However, since March this year, militants have carried out deadly attacks and ambushes in the region, killing more than 30 soldiers, paramilitary personnel and policemen, including 16 fatalities in Srinagar.

The five local militants, categorised as ‘the most wanted’, include Qayoom Najar who operates in the Sopore area and Talib Lali who operates in the Bandipora area. Qayoom is Hizbul Mujahideen commander for Sopore and Talib is the group’s commander for Bandipora in north Kashmir, according to a confidential police document.

Sajad Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Srinagar’s Zewan area, is Lashkar-e-Toiba commander, who had recently featured along with two others in a ‘wanted’ poster pasted by the police in several parts of Srinagar. Sajad became a militant five to six year ago and has since been operating in south Kashmir, with his occasional sightings being reported in the city, a police officer said.

Mohammad Muzaffar Naikoo is Lashkar-e-Toiba’s district commander in the Sopore region. A police officer, however, said the militant from Sopore is operating as a “freelancer” since the arrest of the group’s divisional commander, Fawad, alias Fahadullah, in April, which wiped out the group from the area.

Bilal Ahmad Bhat, who operates in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district and is associated with Lashkar-e-Toiba, is the last of the five local commanders who have been categorised as ‘A plus plus’ or as most wanted by the police. He is a resident of Pulwama district.

Among the four Pakistani nationals leading militancy in Kashmir is Qasim, reported to have been in the Valley for the last nearly three years and operates from south Kashmir. Qasim and Sajad, along with another local militant, Irshad Ahmad Gania, a resident of nearby Awantipora, who became a militant nearly two years ago, are suspected to have carried out the ambush on the Army on the city outskirts last month, in which eight soldiers were killed and 16 injured.

Another foreign militant leading the region’s militancy is Qari Yasir. In police records, Qari is the divisional commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad and operates from the dense forest of the Lolab region of frontier Kupwara district.
Another Jaish-e-Mohammad commander operating from north Kashmir is Hamza Kocha, a Pakistani national, according to police records.

In central Kashmir, Pakistani militant, Huraira, operates in the Kangan-Theed forest belt which touches the outskirts of Srinagar city and a large swathe of Ganderbal district. Huraira is among the ‘most wanted’ militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba in the region.

The number of militants operating in the Kashmir valley is estimated to be around 130 to 150.

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