Srinagar: The presence of two Kashmiri militants in the Jaish-e-Mohammad’s fidayeen squad indicates a major shift in the course of militancy in Kashmir, which can “take dangerous turns in the future,” top police officers are worried.
“The attack will bring a phenomenal change on the map of militancy in Kashmir,” a top cop told Kashmir Reader. “In the past 20 years of our service, we have tracked and fought many fidayeens. The fidayeens, who would mostly comprise of foreigners, had a bleak idea of what they were going to do. It was like they wanted the work to be done in a hurry. But the Lethpora attack (in Pulwama on Sunday) has changed things radically. It was led by Kashmiris who exactly knew what they were doing.”
The two Kashmiri militants, 16-year-old Fardeen Ahmad Khanday and 21-year-old Manzoor Baba, along with their Pakistani accomplice were killed at Lethpora after they carried out a pre-dawn attack on a CRPF camp at the police commando training centre there. Five personnel of the CRPF were killed in the attack that was claimed by Jaish.
Referring to the video message released by Fardeen just hours before he carried out the fidayeen attack, senior police officers said that the video has sown the ideological seeds for more such attacks in the future.
“The video will create phenomenal problems in the long term,” another police officer said. “Militancy will become more extreme and deadly, led by Kashmiri militants. The release of the video should not be seen as an individual act of a 16-year-old boy. It should be broadly seen as a message from the teenage generation. This is a major shift in the history of Kashmir militancy.”
The official said this was the first time in the history of Kashmir that a fidyaeen had recorded a video before mounting an attack.
“This was the phenomenon in Palestine. The fidayeen attacker would record his message before launching an attack on Israel. It was started by them,” a top police officer said.
“The important thing to note in the video is that the militant knows what he is doing. This means he is choosing this path, fully knowing that he is going to die. He is showing bravado. It also shows the complete commitment and motivation of the militants towards their cause, unlike in the past when fidayeens were just brought and asked to launch an attack. Many fidayeens, like the Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab, and others had no idea why they were attacking. But this is something different,” the officer said.
Another police officer, who closely works with counter-insurgency, said the video and the Pulwama attack together have the potential to bring about a radical change in Kashmir militancy.
“In the video, Fardeen has discussed the complete agenda of why he is taking a decision to become a fidayeen,” the officer said. “He issues a full-fledged sermon using Quranic and Urdu verses. It means he has completely convinced himself for choosing the path of death. If you analyse closely, he rolls out the complete political agenda. He is instigating youth to take extreme action, and it can become a norm in the future. In other words, he is telling the youth it is better to launch an attack than to hurl a stone. It will encourage more young people like him to follow this path. This video has sounded alarm bells in security circles because we know how dangerous this can be.”
All the three police officers agreed that local fidayeens would have an edge over foreign militants, as they can do recce and transport ammunitions on their own.
“In the Lethpora attack, we have come to know, they did recce of the place on their own. They were locals and knew the topography well,” one of the police officers said.
The cops said that youth in Kashmir are now moving towards extreme methods, as there has been complete stalemate towards the resolution of the Kashmir problem.
“We have shown them dreams. We have discussed phase-wise withdrawal of AFSPA and other such measures. But we could not keep our promises. Instead, the policy of control has been tightened. It has given birth to attacks like the one in Lethpora. We cannot rule out more such attacks in the future led by Kashmiri militants,” the officers said.