The surrender of Tariq Pandit, a top Hizbul Mujahideen militant and a close aide of its commander Burhan Wani, before the army on Saturday, could have serious impact on the new militancy wave emerging from south Kashmir.
Such surrenders by prominent militants or even their arrest in the past have been detrimental to the militant networks and their operations in the Valley. In north Kashmir, where it was once at peak, the intensity of militancy also decreased in past few years due to arrest of a few active militants. Both the arrests and the surrender have been a major help to the security forces in damaging the rise of the new militancy.
Pandit, 25, was one of the militants who prominently featured in a picture that went viral on social networking sites last year, when the poster boy of Kashmir’s new militancy, Wani, decided to shun the cloak of anonymity and change the strategy for attracting youth towards the militancy. Over the past one year, majority of the militants brandishing automatic weapons in that picture have been killed by the security forces.
But Pandit is the only one, who has preferred to surrender before the forces, although the reasons attributed aren’t known, his sudden surrender would leave the Wani’s group vulnerable. This major breakthrough comes at a time when the security forces have intensified their operation across south Kashmir against the militants, having been able to neutralize majority of the known faces in the area.
Pandit, for the security agencies, is a big fish, when it comes to using his knowledge and hideouts of the Wani’s group because he, according to the police, knew the areas and the places where the Hizb group would hold meetings or roam in the jungles.
This has worked for the forces in the past in north Kashmir’s troubled town of Sopore in April 2013, when police managed to nab a top Lashkar militant Qari Naved alias Fahadullah. It is still not clear if it was surrender or police apprehended him. But his arrest led to almost winding up of militancy from Sopore town. At that time, the police said Fahadullah was sending local youths to Pakistan for advanced arms and communication training. Even the people whom he had met in the streets were arrested.
This could also work well in case of Pandit, sources say, from the last two days police and army have carried out many search operations following the leads provided by him, including in the village of Tral, of which Wani, the Hizb Commander is a resident of.
Experts says Pandits surrender would effect the new militancy in two ways.
First, the confidence level of the people wanting to join the militant groups would diminish looking at one of the close aide of the divisional Commander surrendering before the police. And the suspicion on the streets rising on what led to Pandit's decision many would try to distance themselves from the very idea of militancy.
Secondly, almost majority of the places used by these local Kashmiri militants have been compromised after the surrender of Pandit, the hideouts, the houses which the militants might have used and the people who might have helped the group in recent years.
“There is no doubt that the earth under the feet of Wani is shrinking day after day. Most of his comrades have been killed in recent months and the people who have been sheltering him in different villages would be also afraid after Pandit's arrest,” a senior police officer said.
It has to be seen how much information would the security forces be able to retrieve from Pandit in the coming weeks. If his surrender means anything, it definitely suggests that the security forces are closing in on the popular commander of new militancy Burhan Wani, who has otherwise been successful to sustain and operate so far.
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Updated Date: May 31, 2016 12:11:44 IST