Of the top 12 terrorists leading the charge in Kashmir, 10 are local recruits, says a latest dossier prepared by the Army. Most of these 12 terrorists have been recruited in the last 3-4 years and are divisional or district-level commanders representing terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Sources said the list of these terrorists has been made in view of their recent activities and aggressive recruitment from local areas.
All of them are on radar of security forces and have been giving a slip to them. “They are the leaders. Targeting them will leave a vacuum in the local leadership leading to infighting within,” said a source.
The decision to go after the local leadership was taken after the recent increase in local recruitment by terror outfits.
After the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last year, there was prolonged unrest in J&K. The violence triggered mass recruitment at the local level, mostly from South Kashmir. The number of local terrorists in Kashmir is around 120 as of now.
The two Pakistanis on the list of 12 are LeT commander Abu Dujana and JeM commander Abu Hamas. Dujana has managed to give a slip to security forces at least five times in the last few months.
The locals in the list are — Riyaz Naikoo alais Zubair, Zakir Rashid Bhat, Showkat Ahmed Tak, Saddam Paddar, Zeenat Ul Isalam, Wasim Ahmed alias Osama, Junaid Ahmed Matoo alias Kandroo, Mohammed Yasim alias Mansoor, Bashir Ahmed Wani and Altaf Ahmed Dar alias Kachroo.
The rise in local recruitment in the last few months has become the biggest challenge for security forces. More local terrorists are an indicator of increasing support, sources said.
The increase in local recruitment has also been the result of a new strategy by Pakistani terror groups who are using their commanders Abu Dujana and Abu Hamas to focus on radicalisation of youth preparing the next generation of terrorists in Kashmir. Sources claim women and young girls are also being indoctrinated by these terror commanders to join the stone pelting mobs.
Anti-terror operations have been hampered several times by stone pelting mobs, and in the past one year 25 terrorists gave forces the slip during such incidents.