The Hizbul Mujahideen on Tuesday released a video on social media showing Territorial Army (TA) deserter Zahoor Ahmad Thokar along with the group’s operational chief, Yasin Yatoo alias Mahmood Gaznavi, and other commanders. Yatoo and others are shown welcoming Thokar in the video. Police sources said that Yatoo is Hizbul’s main recruiter and has motivated many youths, including some policemen, to join the group. Earlier, Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin had welcomed Thokar and asked other Kashmiris working in the Army and police to follow the deserter’s path. Thokar, who is from south Kashmir’s Pulwama, had deserted his TA battalion at Gantmulla in Baramulla district with his weapon on June 6 after a two-year service.
The Army had issued a high alert after Thokar’s desertion while police had questioned his family over his whereabouts.
The Army had earlier said that they have no reports that Thokar had joined the militant ranks even as there were apprehensions from Day One in the security establishment over the deserter’s defection. This is the first instance of a TA soldier joining the militant ranks.