Srinagar: In the ongoing efforts by Jammu and Kashmir Police to apprehend the culprits responsible for the killing of three security officers on September 13, their primary focus centres on a local operative of Lashkar e Taiba (LeT), Mohammad Uzair Khan. Khan, hailing from Nagam Kokernag and the son of Bashir Ahmad Khan, reportedly joined the LeT in July 2022.
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As per a report of The Week, Out of the 81 currently active militants in Kashmir, the largest faction comprises 48 members affiliated with LeT, followed by 19 associated with Jaish e Mohammed, 12 with Hizbul Mujahideen, and two with Al Badr.
Khan, as per The Week was not among the high-priority militant operatives on the most-wanted list; instead, he fell into the C category of newly recruited militants who supported their operational commanders.
This leads security officials to suspect that the deadly attack was orchestrated by a well-organised cell with handlers located across the border.
Among the 81 active militants in Jammu and Kashmir, 48 are foreigners from Pakistan, while 33 are locals, according to the latest police data. South Kashmir hosts the largest number of active militants, with 56 in total, including 28 foreign and local militants. This region encompasses districts like Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, and Kulgam, which continue to be hotbeds of militancy.”
In north Kashmir, there are 16 active militants, with 13 of them being foreigners operating in Baramulla, Kupwara, and Bandipora. In central Kashmir, comprising Srinagar, Budgam, and Ganderbal, nine militants remain active, seven of whom have crossed over from the border, The Week reported.
Notably, at least ten key handlers associated with militant outfits such as LeT, JeM, and HM are on the security forces’ most-wanted list. Among them is Saifullah Sajid Jutt, an LeT and People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF) handler based in Pakistan. The government recently banned PAFF for employing both physical and social media platforms to radicalise and recruit militants in the Valley.
The list, as per The Week also includes TRF chief Sheikh Sajad Gull from Srinagar, Hizbul handler Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, along with LeT’s Hashir Rafiq Parray and Mohammad Jameel Sheergojar from Bandipora, Mohammad Umer Mir and Bilal Ahmad Mir from Sopore, and Arbaz Ahmed Mir, the LeT commander in Kulgam. JeM’s Ashiq Negroo and Al Badr’s Burhan Hamza from Pulwama are reported to have fled to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), from where they plan their operations.
Intelligence sources of The Week indicate that these handlers are actively collaborating with at least five foreign militants in Kashmir, including LeT operational commanders Abu Zargam, Abu Hurraira, Khalid, Umer, and JeM’s Moosa Sulaimani, all originating from Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the search for local militants persists, with three of them now classified as high-priority. They are Riyaz Ahmad Dar from Pulwama, Kulgam resident Basit Ahmad Dar, who is allegedly the TRF operational chief operating in the Kashmir valley, and Farooq Ahmad Bhat, who actively participates in militant activities on behalf of Hizbul Mujahideen.
As the pursuit of individuals like Uzair continues, militant organisations based in Pakistan prepare for a harsh winter in Kashmir, even as the region has seen a significant decline in militant activities, with nearly 600 militants neutralised in the past three years, marking an all-time low in the threat of militancy.