It has been a norm for years now. Young Kashmiri boys would disappear one day, turn to social media within hours, pose with an assault rifle, whisper a brief prayer and sign up for militancy. But it seems militants have now taken their propaganda efforts to the next level by releasing a video of a real shootout with security forces.
Two days after a gruelling encounter in Kreeri near Baramulla in which five security men and three militants were killed, militants have circulated a video on internet where they are evidently showing their guerrilla prowess.
People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAAF), a new outfit which Jammu and Kashmir Police believes is a front for Lashkar-e-Toiba, has released the actual shootout video of the attack.
The video, purportedly shot by one of three militants who are part of the attack, shows them waiting to carry out a 'hit-and-run' ambush in an orchard that apparently gives them access to the movement of security patrol.
The three slyly emerge from behind the apple trees and fire continuously on the security forces. They keep on firing till they hit a pucca road where a security vehicle is positioned. While two militants are firing continuously, the third, it seems, is providing cover fire from behind. On one occasion, he is seen fitting a fresh magazine. The video has now gone viral on social networking sites.
Edited with bits of music, devotional song and special effects that introduce the outfit and three attackers, the five-minute clip shows two CRPF men shot in the head and killed on spot. But it is unclear what happens near the security vehicle where the trio and paramilitary men trade fire. The ambush ends when a militant shouts out to his colleague in Kashmiri saying 'thavo', meaning stop.
Responding to the video, police said that it killed all the militants involved in the Baramulla attack within 72 hours.
Police tweeted "By releasing video of attack, militants want to glamourise militancy. But they can’t. We replied by actions & killed 04 top commanders, Sajjad @ Haider & FT Taimur Khan @ Abu Usman (seen in said video/attack) & Naseer @ Sad bhai & FT Ali bhai @ Danish within 72 hours, the tweet ends".
By releasing video of attack, #terrorists want to glamourise #terrorism. But they can’t. We replied by actions & killed 04 top cmdrs, Sajjad @ Haider & FT Taimur Khan @ Abu Usman (seen in said video/attack) & Naseer @ Sad bhai & FT Ali bhai @ Danish within 72 hours.@JmuKmrPolice— Kashmir Zone Police (@KashmirPolice) August 21, 2020
While young recruits have been using social media to announce entry into militant outfits over the last 10 years, similar shootout feeds have been released on internet once or twice before.
But it is for the first time that body cameras – like the GoPro - have been used to film an actual gunfight. The last time footage of militant attack on Indian forces became viral was in 2013. A local militant commander named Irshad Gania and his associate carried out an attack on the Army in Hyderpora bypass near Srinagar.
At least 8 Indian soldiers were killed by 2 Kashmiri militants affiliated with LeT. Gania was killed months after the attack in an encounter with police and Army.
A feed of militants attacking a CRPF bus in Pampore, 14 km from Srinagar, also went viral few years back. Two militants were seen firing at the bus and then one of them mounted on a roadside bump and fired volleys of AK fire inside the bus.
The new-age militancy as it came to be known was birthed by Burhan Wani, the militant commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. He was the one who glamourised militancy by using the social media platforms from 2010 onwards.
Wani ensured acts like militant walking in orchards, saying a prayer in jungles, training and congratulating young recruits were filmed and pushed on social media. This 'popularisation' of militancy on mobile screens ensured a steady flow of recruitment in that era.
The recruitment numbers have only fluctuated and not gone drastically down after his killing in an encounter in 2016. This year, police claims the figures have shown a decrease.