In Kashmir, a new battle has begun that is being fought in the courtyards of the people. But unlike in the early 90s, this time, the war will be televised.
The infighting between militant groups has left the entire Valley in shock. Every day, particularly in the restive southern Kashmir, militants are raiding each other’s locations, according to Telegram channels of the warring groups.
A militant outfit linked to Islamic State has declared a war on pro-Pakistan Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group has vowed to eliminate what it called "dogs of Pakistan".
“Our hands will feel no weakness in slaying these enemies of Islam,” a statement issued by Islamic State’s Hind (Indian) Province (ISHP), said this weekend. “They have unleashed a reign of terror in last 30 years and by the will of God their end is nearing,” the statement added, referring to the militants of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The trigger for the first of its kind internal fighting between Kashmiri militants was the killing of a local militant, Adil Dass, who was earlier affiliated with the LeT and had switched over to the IS-affiliated group.
He was lured, according to police, by the opposite group and told to lead the prayers somewhere in Sirhama village of Bijbehera in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
Militants of one group asked him to lead the prayers, said an IS militant in a video, “When he finished the prayer they fired a volley of bullets on him. We will not leave these murtadas (apostates).”
The militants of pro-IS groups consider the Hurriyat leadership, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani as an apostate and so is Syed Salahuddin, the head of United Jihad Council based in Pakistan. They call Reyaz Naikoo, the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir Valley, Reyaz Nalaikoo, (Reyaz Useless). Even Zakir Musa, the man who floated pro-IS ideology in Kashmir, is a good man for them, but a “fool”.
In a statement that surfaced on social networking sites linked to the IS, the group — Islamic State (Province in India) — called Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar militants a group of apostates and blamed them for drawing the “first blood” in Kashmir.
On Sunday, pushed to the wall, Salahuddin issued a video from Pakistan, saying the internal fighting has given the “movement a setback and this was not the first time”.
“We have to respect each other’s idea and ideologies. We have fight for one cause. We have to maintain unity. I appeal to the fighters that there should be joint investigation on Sirhama and those found responsible should be given exemplary punishment,” Salahuddin said in the video.
Over 100 militants, including 23 foreigners, have been killed in Kashmir in the first five months of 2019, but despite that, the ISJK, which had once less than four members, has risen to close to dozen.
A small Kashmiri group of militants also pledged allegiance to the global outfit in a video that had members saying they are pleading allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the chief of the global outfit.
“We have succeeded in establishing jihad on the basis of Tawheed (oneness of Allah) and have destroyed the basis of infidel ideas of nationalism, democracy and self-determination as we have waged a war against them. Our fight is not for the Kashmir cause but it is a war of faith. We have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi,” the group of militants said in a video statement on Sunday.
In another statement, the group blamed Hizbul Mujahideen for repeating the events of the early 90s when internal fighting between various militant outfits led to the killing of several militants affiliated with J&K Liberation Front or Al Jehad.
“Hizbul murtadeen (party of apostates - referring to Hizb) did what it does best, backstab the Ummah and Mujahideen,” the statement said, referring to the killing of Adil.
The group has also blamed the Hizbul Mujahideen for leaking information about Qayoom Najar, a top militant from Sopore known for his pan-Islamist views, which led to his death at the hands of security forces some years back.
“This is the defining chapter of the new age militancy in Kashmir,” said a senior intelligence officer based in southern Kashmir. “Everyone in the security grid is watching the battle closely.”
Updated Date: Jul 01, 2019 12:03:17 IST