On the death anniversary of its commander Burhan Wani, militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen has released pictures of over 20 youth who have joined the outfit since May 21 this year. The pictures include that of Shams-ul-Haq, brother of an IPS officer. Haq went missing in May this year, a month after seven militants were killed in an encounter at his ancestral house in Shopian.
The pictures that have been posted on social networking sites show young men wielding assault rifles to announce joining the militant ranks. “We already had inputs about many youths whose pictures have come out today,” a police officer told The Indian Express. “For the past two months, they (Hizb) didn’t release pictures of their new recruits on the social media. Perhaps, they were waiting for this day”.
A police officer said releasing the pictures of so many new recruits simultaneously seems yet another attempt by Hizbul Mujahideen to glamourise militancy. “It seems they have deliberately chosen the death anniversary of Burhan Wani,” he said. “Burhan is the one who first used social media to attract young men towards militancy”.
While most of the new recruits hail from south Kashmir, there are youths from north and central Kashmir too.
The prominent faces among the new recruits include Shams-ul-Haq, Waseem Ahmad Rather, Tauseef Ahmad Thoker, Irfan Rashid Dar and Feroz Ahmad Dar.
Haq, who originally hails from Draggad village in south Kashmir’s Shopian and was living at Hyderpora in Srinagar, was pursuing a degree in Unani medicine before he went missing in May.
On April 1 this year, seven Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in an encounter in Haq’s ancestral house at Shopian.
Waseem Ahmad Rather, a resident of Ashmuji in south Kashmir’s Kulgam, has completed a Master’s in English and was pursuing a doctorate before he joined the militant ranks. Tauseef Ahmad Thoker, a resident of Charsoo in Awantipore, holds a Master’s in Mathematics and a Bachelor’s in Education.
The new recruits also include the Special Police Officer Irfan Rashid Dar, who decamped with his service rifle from Pampore police station on June 27. Dar was the Personal Security Officer of Pampore’s Station House Officer.
A resident of Heff village in Shopian, Feroz Dar has a Master’s in Arts besides a Bachelor’s degree in physical education.
Of the new militant recruits on the list, at least four are from north Kashmir — three from Kupwara and one from Sopore. “The militants have now shifted their focus to north Kashmir and they are trying to get more and more boys into the militant fold,” said a police officer posted in north Kashmir. “They are trying to replicate the south experiment in the north and it seems that it is working for them”.