Zakir Ahmad Bhat -- who took command of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) in Jammu and Kashmir after Burhan Wani was killed in July -- has threatened to attack families of security forces, especially the police stationed in the valley.
In a 1.24-minute video released a day ago -- exclusively shared with HuffPost India by the security establishment -- 25-year-old Bhat says, "...the HM has the capability to target families of policemen and security forces. You are mistaken if you believe your families are safe in Jammu or Kanyakumari (sic)..."
Also known as "Musa", Bhat is seen wearing fatigues and cradling an automatic weapon in the video. At least three more Ak-47s are strategically placed in the frame of the video to complete the effect of a makeshift military camp. This is first video released by the Zakir Ahmad Bhat. It is similar to the video messages issued by Burhan Wani earlier.
The video, circulating in the valley for the last 12 hours, has "several purposes," according to a top official handling Kashmir.
First, the video aims to hit the morale and threaten the Jammu and Kashmir Police. The Jammu and Kashmir Police, being the local force, plays crucial role in counter-insurgency operations and information gathering.
First, the video aims to hit the morale and threaten the Jammu and Kashmir Police. The Jammu and Kashmir Police, being the local force, plays crucial role in counter-insurgency operations and information gathering. "Destroy or dent their morale and you will have situation similar to the 1990s," a top security official told Huffington Post.
"It is alarmingly repetitive," said a senior officer who was stationed in the valley in 1990s. Then too spirit of the Jammu and Kashmir Police was broken by threats and killings. Soon the police ceased to exist on the ground. Terrorist then deftly shifted the narrative, making the Indian Army -- the only other force standing -- as an 'occupying force' that obstructed the realisations of a state governed by Islam.
Wani had succeeded in galvanizing support and infusing young blood into Hizbul Mujahideen. Wani had successfully used social media to enthuse and recruit local youth as a result of which popular social networking sites like Facebook and even internet had to be shut down in the valley.
Second, sources said, the video aims to assure the over ground HM workers and cadre. Security forces have relaunched counter-insurgency operations in the valley recently. Stone-pelting and prolonged unrest in the valley had forced the Indian Army, para-military and the local police to stop all operations. "Recent operations in the hinterland have started showing results, putting pressure on terrorist, their logistics and bases," an officer said while explaining the video. "It also seeks to assure over ground workers and hard core HM cadre that the group still has ability to hit," he added.
Third, and very importantly, the video aims to establish Bhat as the face of resistance in the valley. Burhan Wani had succeeded in galvanizing support and infusing young blood into Hizbul Mujahideen. Wani had successfully used social media to enthuse and recruit local youth as a result of which popular social networking sites like Facebook and even internet had to be shut down in the valley.
Bhat is from Tral in south Kashmir, and is the son of a senior government engineer. He has a Bachelor's degree in Technology. He is known to have been motivated by the 2010 unrest in the valley that left 113 protestors, mainly young boys, dead. He formally joined the HM in 2013 and was a close confidant of Wani.