Security forces worried about unity in militant outfits in Kashmir: Report

After a video showing around 30 militants of various militant outfits operating in Kashmir goes viral on social media, the security agencies are worried to see the groups together

 

Srinagar: Security forces are worried about three major militant groups operating together in Kashmir after a video, being circulated on social media, purportedly showed 30 militants of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) together in south Kashmir, a media report published by The Indian Express said on Thursday.

The armed militants of the three outfits were reportedly marching in front of the camera in the 45-second video shot in a forested area, the report added.

“Militants from HM, LeT and JeM… are operating jointly. This trend started last year after the July unrest. Before that, they had different areas of operation,” a senior security officer from Kashmir was quoted by The Indian Express to have said.

Citing the example of south Kashmir, the official told The Indian Express, “The HM earlier operated in areas such as south Anantnag, Tral and the southern belt of Shopian, while Lashkar militants operated in Kulgam, Kakapora and east Pulwama. The JeM was limited to Kamala forest, west of Shopian. These divisions no longer exist.”

Official estimates suggest there are around 80 HM militants in south Kashmir, most of them local youths who joined militancy in the past two years, the report said, adding the number of LeT militants is estimated at 20 while JeM has only 10-12 militants in south Kashmir.

Late last year, a photograph had surfaced on social media which featured local leaders of the three groups: Zakir Moosa of the HM, Abu Dujana of the LeT and Abdullah Bhai of the JeM, the report added.

Security forces, according to the Indian Express report, believe this coming together of the groups has happened on orders of the United Jehad Council in Pakistan-adminstered Kashmir (PaK).

“By coordinating their operations, these militants are able to build more pressure on security forces. Now we know that if we get a militant of HM in a particular area, we may have another militant of LeT there. This was not the case earlier. By building more pressure on us, they hope to get greater support from the people,” the official was quoted by the report to have said.
The security forces were earlier hamstrung by the ineffectiveness of their intelligence setup, following the public unrest in July last year, the report said, adding but officials said the setup has now been re-established.

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