Wearing a black combat vest over a white T-shirt with automatic weapons adoring the background wall, the young Hizbul Mujahideen Commander, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, once again rattled the security grid in Jammu and Kashmir with his latest video in which he warns of attacks on police and media if they don’t fall in line.
In the six-minute video, the Hizb Commander urges the youth to join his outfit and help in the profiling of police officers of their respective areas. The video has, in fact, surfaced days after the series of lethal attacks carried out by militants on police and army in Srinagar and Anantnag.
“I appeal to those youth who want to join us to collect complete details of cops of their respective areas; of their role towards militancy and handover the details to us. We will also recruit them at the right opportunity,” Wani says in the video.
Speaking in Urdu, Wani warns police not to participate in anti-militancy operations and to stop harassing the local youth.
“If you (police) care about your life, remain inside police stations, don’t put barricades on roads and stop harassing youth. Those who will do this will be responsible for their life,” he says.
Seemingly modelled on Al-Qaeda videos, Wani boldly suggests that the police stop siding with India and join the fight against them. “I want to tell police that you are our brothers and our real enemy is India but you fail to understand that India makes us fight among ourselves. Train your guns on Indian Army and help in our freedom movement. It doesn’t make any difference to India whether a militant or a cop dies. They are pitting us against each other.”
The Hizb commander appeals to people of Kashmir to fight the forces and extends help to them. “If any policeman, army or anybody supporting the Indian cause tries to enter any home at any place in any corner of Kashmir, kick them out. Every Kashmiri has our support, Inshallah. And pelt stones to quell army when they come to your areas because this land belongs to us.”
Kashmir has witnessed a surge in the militant attacks since last month when three cops of Jammu and Kashmir Police were shot dead by militants from point-blank range in Srinagar on May 23. Two other cops were killed in the same fashion in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district by militants who were caught on camera fleeing from the spot on 4 June. A day earlier, on 3 June, three Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel were killed and seven others were wounded when militants attacked an army convoy on Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Bijbehara town of Anantnag district.
Burhan’s militant outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen, claimed responsibility for all the attacks. The same outfit has carried several other attacks in south Kashmir where it mostly operates.
After the deadly attacks, a high-level security meeting was held in south Kashmir’s Khanabal to devise strategy to ensure safe elections. The meeting, attended by DGP K Rajendra, General officer Commanding of Army’s 15 Corps, Lt. General Satish Dua and other police and army officials, decided to provide a multi-layer security cover for Anantnag bypolls.
South Kashmir’s Anantnag is going for bypolls on 22 June. The seat was left vacant after the death of former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, on 27 June. The current CM, Mehbooba Mufti is contesting from Anantnag constituency.
What has surprised many in valley is Wani’s attack on the media for following the line of New Delhi and branding them as “terrorists” instead of “militants.”
“At last I need to warn media because it follows the tone of India. I want to tell media that if we are terrorist we can destroy your networks. But if you want to recognise who the real terrorists are, consult the history and Kashmir and decide if we or Indian army are terrorists,” he says.
Meanwhile, Burhan refuted the reports of carrying attacks on the upcoming Amarnath Yatra but warned attacks on proposed Sainik Colonies and separate KP townships. “We aren’t planning to carry out any attacks on Amarnath pilgrims who will be here to perform their religious rites,” he says.
In the past, Burhan has managed to galvanise huge support for his group through similar videos posted on social media. In many areas, people risk their lives by engaging with forces during gun-battles to help militants flee. The tech-savvy and flamboyant nature of Burhan has made him popular among youth. He also managed to inspire some cops to join his group. It needs to be seen whether the latest video makes any impact on police and youth to join him.