Hizb-Ul-Mujahideen ‘Announces’ Planned meeting in Srinagar, Authorities on alert
Srinagar: Hizbul Mujahideen, the dominant militant group in Kashmir, in a purported open letter has said its “Command Council” will meet in Srinagar on November 21.
The letter has allegedly been issued by Hizb’s Field Operational Commander Mohammad Bin Qasim and is being circulated on social media, in a major challenge facing the state after over a decade.
“It is to inform you all that on November 21st 2018 Hizbul Mujahideen Jammu and Kashmir would be holding its command council meeting at Srinagar (sic),” the letter reads. The meeting, as per the letter, will be presided over by Hizb’s “senior most member from Shopian.”
The militant outfit has also dared the authorities and “challenged” them to try and stop the meeting. “The command council will hold deliberations on various important matters and the future course of action,” it reads, adding that “the minutes of the meeting will be made public after the successful completion.”
Police are now verifying the authenticity of the letter, Additional Director General of J&K Police (Law & Order) Munir Khan told News18. They have termed the letter the “frustration of militants” as they are suffering from crises.
“We have killed over 200 militants this year and they are perturbed. Let them hold this meeting if they can,” a top police official said on the condition of anonymity. “There is a rift between militants and that is why this sort of material is being circulated,” he added.
The phenomenon of such meetings was common during the 1990s when thousands of militants were active in the Valley and calling the shots. “The apex body of Hizb used to be called Central Command Council. The council was headed by the chief commander. The deputy commander, financial chief, publicity head and the district commander used to participate besides other senior members,” said a former militant commander. “In the meeting, the issues and strategies would be discussed. The actual concern of the meeting was regarding the operations,” he said.
Security agencies believe that it is a matter of concern, though they suspect it to be the handiwork of “disgruntled elements”. “We are working on it. This cannot be overlooked. However, it is most probably the work of overground workers to create fear among people. Such a meeting is not possible,” said an intelligence officer, on condition of anonymity.
“During the 1990s, militants did not announce the time and venue of the Command Council meeting, but they used to share some details with the media,” said a Kashmir-based senior journalist. “It was considered something big.”
The militants, by announcing the meeting, are trying to show their influence and power if the letter is true, said another journalist. “Maybe they want to tell that they have reached Srinagar. They are trying to show their presence,” he said.
Some officers believe that this could be “psychological tactic” to engage the security agencies. On Sunday, two militants affiliated with Al Badar were killed in Rebban village of Shopian district.
IG Kashmir SP Pani and DIG south Kashmir visited Shopian district and chaired the meeting to review the security arrangements for the ongoing Panchayat polls. Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo has threatened the panchayat candidates. Since the past 48 hours in Kashmir, six civilians have been kidnapped by the militants of which two were brutally killed.
On Friday, a 17-year-old youth was killed by militants and his death was filmed. This happened for the first time in the history of militancy in Kashmir that the assassination was video recorded.
In an unverified audio released by the Hizbul Mujahideen operational commander, the youth can be heard confessing to tipping-off the army about the presence of militants. A day later, militants also released a gory video showing them slitting the throat of a youth. The Hizb commander has threatened that more assassination videos will be released.