On Tuesday when three Jaish-e-Mohammad men were killed in an encounter at Hanjan village of Pulwama in South Kashmir, it pointed towards a new trend among militant outfits — growing a breed of militants who are locally trained and not sent to Pakistan for the purpose.
South Kashmir, especially in and around Pulwama district, has seen four militant attacks in one month. However, unlike in the past when militancy in the Valley was run by Pakistan-trained militants or Pakistani nationals, currently most of the rebels killed in encounters or on the wanted list of the security agencies are locally trained. However, training received by them is basic in nature and they only learn to handle firearms and other small ammunition.
According to police sources, 15 to 18 home trained rebels have been recently recruited by militant outfits and more than 12 such rebels were killed by the security forces in the past few months.
One of the three involved in Tuesday’s encounter was Showkat Ahmad Dar, 22, who had joined militancy only 19 days ago after he went missing from his father’s grocery shop.
Before Army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles launched the final assault on the house of Nazir Ahmad Negroo where militants were holed up, the police had called Dar’s father asking him to convince his son to surrender. However, Dar refused to lay down arms.
Tejinder Singh, SP Pulwama, told The Indian Express that the slain militants were locally trained.
On Monday evening, Army personnel had cordoned off the village on realising that a group of militants with heavy weapons were hiding in a the three-storey building. According to the villagers, the trapped militants first started firing on the security forces and this resulted in an 18-hour long gunbattle between the two sides. This was the first encounter between militants and security forces in this village.
Surrounded by apple orchards, Hanjan, seven km from Pulwama town, has around 100 households. The house in which militants which holed up was razed to the ground in order to bring out the rebels.
Another slain militant Altaf Rather, 31, a resident of village Check Badrinath, according to the police, was involved in sarpanch killings and also threatened villagers in Pulwama to boycott recently Lok Sabha polls.
Rather had joined JeM on September 4, 2011, under the influence of Altaf Baba alias Gazi Baba of Aglar Pakharpora. He replaced Altaf in the outfit after the latter was killed in an encounter last year.
Sources said that Farooq Ahmad Laway, a resident of Hardu Dalwan, had joined militancy last year after he established contact with Shakeel Ahmad Wani, who recently moved to Hizbul Mujahideen.
JeM, formed by Masood Azhar in February 2000, has a limited militant strength in the Valley and lately this outfit has been trying to reorganise itself by recruiting locals, police said.