Faces of Kashmir militancy part 2: Many of them came out of jail only to pick up the gun again

Editor's note: The Indian Army has released a list of 12 most wanted terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the first in a two-part series that profiles these wanted men.

Days after security forces killed top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sabzar Ahmed Bhat in an encounter in Tral area of Pulwama district, the Indian Army released a list of 12 most wanted militants in Jammu and Kashmir. A majority of these wanted men are locals who joined the militant ranks over the last few years, except for two of them who worked as 'over ground workers' for years for different militant outfits before joining them fully recently. Here is part-II face of Kashmir militancy.

Junaid Ahmad Matoo, alias Kandroo

Junaid Ahmad Matoo, alias Kandroo. Image courtesy Indian Army

Junaid Ahmad Matoo, alias Kandroo. Image courtesy Indian Army

Kandroo is a resident of Khudwani area in Kulgam in south Kashmir. On 25 June 2014, his father, Manzoor Ahmad Matoo filed a complaint at a local police station saying his son had gone missing for more than 20 days. Few days of investigation and police soon informed his father that he has been seen roaming with militants.

Matoo joined Lashkar-e-Taiba on 3 July 2015. He was among the few new age Kashmiri militants who joined Lashkar instead of Hizb, popular with Kashmiri militants.

Twelve months later Matoo, a tall, lanky figure with a flowing beard, was seen running wearing jeans with an AK 47 on the KP road in Anantnag in a CCTV footage, which showed him attacking a police post and fleeing in a car. Two policemen were killed in that attack.

Matoo, 19, was in college when he joined LeT and is now the district commander of Kulgam and category A militant, he carries a bounty of Rs 5 lakh on his head.

He was seen most recently on 8 May during the funeral prayers of a slain militant, among few militants appeared from a window of a mosque and while brandishing weapons fired several rounds in the air to pay homage to their slain colleague.

Zeenat ul Islam Shah

Zeenat-ul-Islam. Image courtesy Indian Army

Zeenat-ul-Islam. Image courtesy Indian Army

According to security agencies, is one of main accused in the attack in Mulu Chitragam area of Shopian that left three soldiers, including an officer and a woman dead when militants ambushed an army patrol. Six men of the 44 Rashtriya Rifles were injured.

Zeenat, 28, alias Alqama, is a resident of Sugan Zanipura in Shopian. He was recruited on 17 November 2015. He completed his Bachelors of Arts in a local college. His father is Imam at a mosque in Sogan village.

In 2008, Zeenat was arrested by special operation group of Kashmir police. During the interrogation, he admitted to working as an Overground Worker (OGW) and being in touch with militants from different organisations. He would arrange food and travel for them a long time, police sources said.

Immediately after, he was booked under PSA. He was released in 2011 after four years. Zeenat worked in his village helping his father in farming and got married during that time.

Yaseen Yatoo alias, Mansoor

Yaseen Yatoo alias, Mansoor. Image courtesy Indian Army

Yaseen Yatoo alias, Mansoor. Image courtesy Indian Army

Mansoor feigned his own death. In December 2015, he left home for Jammu to appear in a court hearing but his family was soon informed that he has met with an accident on "border". This was an attempt to divert the attention of security agencies. Funeral prayers (in absentia) were offered for him and tributes poured in from separatist leaders. A resident of Nagam village in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district, Yatoo, 40, was in second year of Amar Singh College when he left home in 1996 to become a militant.

Earlier this year, his pictures appeared on social media showing a man reading Quran while an assault rifle rested beside him. His hair and beard had turned grey. Yatoo is one of the longest serving militants among Hizb cadres in valley.

"We did not know he was alive until my younger son was called by police last year to enquire about Yaseen," Habibullah, Yatoo’s father, says.

In April 2002, he joined Hizb again. On 21 November, 2002, he was arrested by BSF and subsequently released in June 2004. In March 2005, he again joined Hizb. In June 2006, Yatoo was arrested in Awantipora but was released in 2009. According to police, Yaseen was lodged under Public Safety Act (PSA) and accused of killing five civilians in 2005. In 2015, he was released again in April. He is categorised as A+ militant.

In past 20 years, Yaseen has been in and out of jail several times. He had come back home and even left militancy to join a political party. He is mostly active in Kulgam and Budgam areas.

Saddam Paddar, alias Zaid

Saddam Paddar, alias Zaid. Image courtesy Indian Army

Saddam Paddar, alias Zaid. Image courtesy Indian Army

A lanky, short bearded man in his early twenties, used to be the main attraction of Tangpora Mohalla in Shopian district. Almost every other day, he would sit with his friends and crack jokes. This is what he did most of the time before becoming a militant.

Today, Paddar is A++ category militant and district commander of Hizbul Mujahideen of Shopian. He has escaped from cordon many times. Despite hardly being educated, he is believed to be a “clever militant” and was among the few who enjoyed the trust of slain HM commander Burhan Wani.

After the death of Wani, he was considered to be his successor but that place was later taken by Zakir Musa. According to security agencies, he was recruited on 25 September 2015 and has been involved in many attacks, including few bank looting incidents.

“When I heard (of his joining militants), I was shocked. He was a joker and would make not just us but every passerby laugh. He was a famous wicket-keeper of our village and would help his father in farming and herd sheep before becoming a militant," a friend told Firstpost.

Paddar had not even cleared his ninth class and would most of the times seen in the village square if he was not in his farms. Today when you ask friends and acquaintance what could have possibly led him to join the militancy, everyone has the same answer “they are surprised.”

"Until he joined Hizbul Mujahideen there was no case against him. He was known as OGW. He is a militant by conviction", a police officer says, "We never suspected that he would join militancy until his picture appeared on social media along with Burhan Wani."

Showkat Ahmad Tak, alias Huzifa

Showkat Ahmad Tak, alias Huzifa. Image courtesy Indian Army

Showkat Ahmad Tak, alias Huzifa. Image courtesy Indian Army

Tak was memorising the Holy Quran in a Darul Uloom in Bandipora in north Kashmir when one day, he left to join the Lashkar-e-Taiba. A short burly man in his late twenties, Tak is a resident of Panzgam village in Pulwama district. He joined militancy in October 2011 and is categorised as A++ militant. He is currently the LeT district commander of Pulwama but police says he operates on the outskirts of Srinagar, and has been an active militant from last six years.

In November 2012, Kashmir police killed a militant in a long encounter in Kulgam. There was huge drama after security forces claimed to have killed Tak. But when the body was handed over to the family of Tak, they turned it away, saying it a case of mistaken identity.

"He is operating somewhere on the outskirts of Srinagar. That is what I can tell you," Zahid Malik, SP Awantipora, told Firstpost.

Ghulam Mohammad, Tak’s father, says his son cleared 12th class but was not much into studies. Then one day, he decided he would go to a Darul Uloom for memorising Quran and it was there he joined militancy.

Tak’s friends say although he was not much religious and hardly showed any inclination for Jihad but after 10th class, he started reading "radical literature". It was after two years that he decided to join the Darul Uloom. It is not clear how Tak came into contact with militants while in Darul Uloom.

Abu Hamas

Abu Dujana. Image courtesy Indian Army

Abu Dujana. Image courtesy Indian Army

He is a Pakistani national who entered Kashmir in the middle of 2016 during the civilian unrest after the killing of Burhan Wani. According to intelligence sources, he went straight to Tral area where he joined other militants. He is categorised as A++ militant. It is not clear if he has been involved in any attack but sources say he is one among the three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants active in the Valley.

Click here to read the first part

Updated Date: Jun 06, 2017 18:38 PM

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