Despite Bandipora encounter, Lashkar-e-Taiba remains deadliest militant outfit in Kashmir

The killing of six militants, including Owaid, the nephew of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s (LeT) top commander, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, may have been claimed by the security forces as a major success, but the LeT remains a fierce outfit and commands a group of over 60 militants in Kashmir. The LeT comprises both locals and foreigners and remains the deadliest militant outfit in Kashmir. In the LeT, there are 70 percent foreign militants and 30 percent locals.

Inspector General of police Kashmir range, Muneer Ahmad Khan, told Firstpost that among the militant outfits the Hizbul Mujahideen has the largest cadre, which is followed by the LeT. He said that of nearly 200 militants, who are active in Kashmir, 120 are associated with Hizbul Mujahideen and others belong to different outfits including the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

A steady stream of infiltration from across the border, as well as local recruitment, has ensured that the LeT is the second largest militant group in Kashmir. In the Hizbul Mujahideen, 95 percent of the militants are local recruits, and 5 percent are foreigners.

 Despite Bandipora encounter, Lashkar-e-Taiba remains deadliest militant outfit in Kashmir

Representational image. Reuters

According to security officials, the Hizbul Mujahideen cadre also comprises of militants who have been active for even less than a year and are not well trained. The LeT, on the other hand, is considered to be one of the deadliest militant outfits in Kashmir. Unlike the JeM, which is known for the fidayeen attacks, the LeT militants are known to survive for a long time by managing to give the security forces a slip from different encounter sites.

Both the LeT’s Abu Dujana—who had later joined the Zakir Musa-led Ansar Ghazwatul Hind—and Abu Ismail were responsible for a number of militant attacks. Ismail and Dujana had inflicted heavy losses on the forces, attacked the security camps of the forces as well as the convoys travelling on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. Ismail was responsible for the attack on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel outside the Delhi Public School which had left an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) and a constable dead and three soldiers injured.

The ease with which militants contact young people to recruit them is seen as a major challenge by the forces. Moreover, infiltration from across the border also ensures that the number of active militants is not brought down to zero. A Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) report has noted that the “ongoing militancy in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is intrinsically linked with infiltration from across the border, both from the International border as well as the Line of Control in J&K.” As per the MHA figures, the reported infiltration attempts in Jammu and Kashmir in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 was 277, 222, 121, and 364. The corresponding figures for net infiltration were 97, 65, 33 and 112. This year, till 1 August, 285 infiltration attempts were reported. There were 228 ceasefire violations in areas guarded by the Army, and 221 violations in areas controlled by the BSF. At least 75 militants have managed to sneak into state from across the border in nine months up to September this year, the security estimates reveal.

A senior security official said that the LeT has commanders heading different areas in Kashmir, who are also well trained. In the encounter on Saturday, along with Owaid, Mehmood Bhai, the district commander of LeT for Bandipora, was also killed. “The LeT doesn’t have a dearth of people who can replace them as commanders,’’ he said.

Police officials said that the six militants who were killed outside a house in Hajin area of north Kashmir in Bandipora were planning a meeting when security forces cordoned the area. “The meeting would have been about beefing up the militancy in Kashmir and planning some more attacks, before the security forces acted on a specific tip-off and killed them. The militants went outside the house and engaged in a gunfight which lasted for around half an hour in the afternoon,’’ said a police official. He added that in Hajin area, the militants have often been spotted and “there are at least four other foreign militants who remain active in the area.’’ “ We managed to trap the militants after launching a swift operation and there are some militants active in Hajin and we will soon achieve a breakthrough,’’ said Deputy Inspector General of Police, North Kashmir Range, Vidhi Kumar Birdi.

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Updated Date: Nov 19, 2017 20:05:42 IST