2013 to 2019: Hizb to AGH-Major blow to militancy

2013 to 2019: Hizb to AGH-Major blow to militancy

Nisar Dharma
Srinagar: The killing of Zakir Rashid Bhat aka Zakir Musa, one the last active militant ‘commanders’ in Kashmir is a major blow to militancy in the valley, police officials said on Friday.
Zakir was killed in an encounter in Dadsara Tral between Thursday and Friday night. The operation was jointly carried out by Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles, along with Special Operations Group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CRPF.
“He was one the last standing militant leaders and his killing is a big success for us. We have now almost wiped off the entire militant leadership,” a top police officer told The Kashmir Monitor.
ADGP Law and Order, Munir Ahmad Khan told The Kashmir Monitor that Zakir’s killing was going to strongly impact militancy in Kashmir.
“He was the head of AGH and eliminating him is a big achievement for us. He was a very old militant and naturally, his killing is going to impact the militancy in Kashmir because the old ones inspire the new ones,” he said.
The ADGP said the killing of militant leaders impacts militancy as there hardly remains anyone to lure youth to militancy.
Army too was quick to react to Zakir’s killing.
“Assuredly moving towards Terrorism Free Kashmir. Terrorist Leadership targeted successfully in Tral. College dropout ZakirBhat Musa leader of AGH neutralised. Defied Hizb continuously. Commendable & laudable efforts by @adgpi @northerncomd_ia @kashmirpolice @crpf_srinagar,” the Srinagar based Chinar Corps, also known as 15 Corps, tweeted Friday morning.
After his killing, the Jammu and Kashmir Police issued a statement saying that the Zakir “was carrying rocket launcher, grenades, huge ammunition and warlike stores beside an AK 47”.
Musa, who left Hizb chief and founded Ansar-ul-Gazwat-ul Hind (AGH), a Kashmir-based militant outfit inspired by Al-Qaeda, was an A++ category militant.
Born in an affluent family of Noorpora village in volatile Tral region, Zakir succeeded Burhan Wani as the divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir soon after the latter was killed in an encounter in July 2016.
After quitting engineering studies at a Chandigarh college in 2013, Zakir, then in his mid-20s, joined Hizb’s core group of militants based in Tral.
He grew very close to Burhan and hit headlines first time in 2015 after his picture along with another militant Lateef Tiger went viral on social media. The picture, in which Zakir and Lateef were in casuals, was clicked somewhere in Srinagar, sending the security establishment into the tizzy that time.
Days after Burhan’s killing, Musa issued a maiden video statement, calling on people to continue the agitation and described Kashmir’s movement as the “movement for Islam”. In several other videos, he was seen giving arms training to the new recruits inside a residential house at an undisclosed location.
However, Zakir shot to prominence in May 2017 after he termed the Kashmir movement “as a struggle for the establishment of Islam and not for nationalism or secularism”. He threatened to behead Hurriyat leaders and hang their heads in Lal Chowk “if they came out in his way of establishing Shariah”.
The threat did not go well with Hizbul Mujahideen leadership based in Pakistan who termed his remarks as his personal views. Musa was quick to hit back and announced his exit from the Hizb.
Days later, he formed his own outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, which is believed to be linked to Al Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent, and reiterated his pan-Islamist stand. Zakir entered into a bitter war of words with the militant leadership based in Pakistan over his Islamist stand.
Around a dozen members of Hizb and LeT defected to Musa’s group and announced their support to his cause. Notable among them was Abu Dujana, the successor of top Lashkar commander Abu Qasim, who was killed in 2015 and Abu Hamas, a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. Both the commanders were residents of Pakistan and their support to Musa gave his outfit a big boost.
The first major blow to AGH came in August 2017 when Abu Dujana and his aide Arif Lelhari died in a gunfight at Hakripora in Kakapora area of Pulwama district. A few weeks later, four of his aides were killed in a brief encounter in Tral.
Till this date, more than a dozen members of Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind have been killed including its deputy chief Rehan Khan. Before the formation of the group, four aides of Zakir were killed in an encounter in Kakapora.
After quitting Hizb, Zakir remained elusive but his group released many of his audio messages wherein he targeted both India and Pakistan.
While Zakir was severely criticized by the UJC and Joint Hurriyat Leadership, he became highly popular among youths in Kashmir with his slogans being raised even in the protests on civic issues.
He featured in top 12 “most wanted” militant list of the army and managed to dodge forces on several occasions in the last six years. (KM)

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