Srinagar: After the killing of three local militants in south Kashmir on Tuesday evening, police believes Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad is coordinating with all insurgent groups in the Valley, including the Al-Qaida affiliate Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH), to which the slain trio belonged.
The three militants, killed in a gun battle with the joint forces in Rajpora area of Tral in south Kashmir, were identified as Hameed Lelhari, Janaid Rasheed and Naveed. They all hailed from the Pulwama district.
Lelhari was the successor of Zakir Musa, former commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), the militant group he joined in 2013 while pursuing engineering from a college in Punjab.
Musa had succeeded commander Burhan Wani after he was killed in July 2016. Later, he founded his own group, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. He was critical of Kashmiri separatists and Pakistan and was killed in May this year.
In an audio, the slain terrorist had threatened to hang the separatists in Srinagar’s historic Lal-Showk and openly talked against Pakistan.
The number of AGH remained mostly in single digits, and after the killing of Musa, the Al-Qaida affiliate group had no apparent leader.
According to police, it was Lelhari who took over the AGH. However, unlike Musa’s opposition to Pakistan, he is believed to have started working with Pakistani militant groups.
Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Dilbagh Singh, on Wednesday said that at the “local level” it appears that Pakistan is supporting the AGH.
Responding to a question on whether AGH was being handled by Pakistan, the DGP said: “It is difficult to say but at the local level the connection (between Pakistan and AGH) is visible,” DGP said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“I won’t say it is being directly run by Pakistan as of now,” he added.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad, which claimed responsibility for the deadly Pulwama suicide car-bombing in February this year, is working with all other militant outfits in the Valley, DGP Singh said.
In the Pulwama attack, which was carried by a local militant, over 40 CRPF troopers were killed and the attack brought India and Pakistan to a war-like situation. Indian Air Force, days after the attack, claimed to have carried an attack in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on the militant camps. Days after that, Pakistan violated the Indian airspace and there was a dogfight between the India and Pakistan air forces.
An Indian plane was brought down and its pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured in Pakistan and later handed over to India.
After the killing of the three militants, the AGH is again without any militant. However, police says, the presence of its ground network can’t be ruled out. All the three militants, DGP said, were involved in multiple attacks on forces and civilians.
Since August 5, when Article 370 was abrogated, the DGP said, sizable infiltration has been reported, without divulging the exact number.
Without divulging an exact number, the DGP said sizable infiltration has been reported in the Valley since August 5, when Article 370 was abrogated. “There have been militant sightings in south and north Kashmir,” he said.
As of now, the main worry of the police, it appears, is Jaish coordinating with all militant groups operating in the Valley.