Home » News » India » With JeM's Khalid Killed, These are the Four Most Wanted Militants in Kashmir

With JeM's Khalid Killed, These are the Four Most Wanted Militants in Kashmir

File photo of militant commander Zakir Musa.

File photo of militant commander Zakir Musa.

The man on top of the forces’ list is Al-Qaida’s Zakir Musa.

New Delhi: A number of militants have been killed in Kashmir in the last few months, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders Bashir Ahmad Wani, Abu Dujana, Abu Ismail and Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sabzar Bhat. The latest to join the list is Jaish-e-Muhammad commander Khalid, an A++ militant who was killed in an encounter in Baramulla on Monday morning.

Not much is known about Khalid, whose name first cropped up in October 2016. JeM had also claimed responsibility for the recent attack on Border Security Force (BSF) base near Srinagar airport, killing one BSF jawan.

Khalid is also believed to have had a hand behind the suicide attack on District Police Lines in south Kashmir district Pulwama a month ago, that killed four CRPF men and four policemen.

His killing comes almost a month after LeT commander Abu Ismail, the Amarnath Yatra attack mastermind, was shot dead along with another LeT operative in an operation on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Post his killing, IGP, Kashmir Police, Muneer Khan, had said “there was still a long way to go” to eliminate militancy. With Khalid out, here are the four most wanted men in Kashmir right now.

Zakir Musa, Al-Qaida

The man on top of the forces’ list. After his split from Hizbul, Musa launched the Kashmir chapter — Ansar Ghazwat-ul Hind — of Al-Qaida. In a very short span, Musa has become popular among Valley’s youth and cadre of other terror groups. Many militants, including the once chief of Lashkar’s operations in Kashmir, Abu Dujana, joined him at various stages, and possibly lent him help in the form of weapons and ground network.

Forces want to eliminate him because he has been spreading propaganda for an Islamic caliphate in Kashmir and beyond, an ideology that is rapidly gaining ground among Valley’s youth.

Riyaz Naikoo, Hizbul Mujahideen

The chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, Naikoo, and an ‘A++’ category militant, Naikoo at 29, is one of the most experienced Hizbul commanders and at present its head of operations in Kashmir. He took over from Yaseen Ittoo after his death in an encounter. Naikoo, who is from Durbug, Awantipora, is considered tech savvy. In a recent militant funeral he appeared in public to counter Zakir Musa’s anti-Pakistan propaganda.

He has been booked by police in several murder cases, including that of policemen. To bolster his moderate image he had earlier released an 11-minute video asking Kashmiri Pandits to return to the Valley. Naikoo overlooks at the massive Over Ground Worker (OGW) support for Hizb, the oldest terror group in the Valley.

Saddam Padder, Hizbul Mujahideen

Remember the group photograph shared by slain Hizb commander Burhan Wani? Padder is now the only active militant of the 12 men shown in the picture. Apart from Padder, only Tariq Pandit, who featured in that photograph, is alive as he had surrendered.

Padder comes from a family of farmers. Not much is known about him, except that Hizbul thinks highly of him. Padder is a school dropout who joined militancy about 4-5 years ago. He was with LeT until he joined Hizbul in 2015. After Musa left as the chief of Hizb, Saddam Padder was one of the top contenders to be the next Hizb chief, a place later taken by Naikoo. While he might not be highly educated, he is considered a ‘clever’ militant and was among the few people whom Wani trusted.

Zeenat-ul-Islam, Lashkar-e-Taiba

The most likely person to take on Lashkar leadership in the Valley is Zeenat. The 28-year-old is a resident of Sugan Zanipura, Shopian, and was recruited in 2015. He is considered one of the main accused in the Shopian attack in February that left three soldiers dead. Known as an IED expert, he is a former member of Al-Badar terror outfit.

He was once arrested in 2008 where he is said to have confessed to being an over ground worker (OGW). He was eventually released four years later and is said to have gotten married too before joining the Lashkar module.