Kashmir may be headed for a spurt in militancy with the banned organisation Hizbul Mujahideen putting up posters announcing its resurrection after the death of its commander Burhan Wani sparked waves of violence in the Valley.
The posters carry a photo of 11 militants dressed in combat gear and holding AK-47s in an orchard. The poster was uploaded on the website of local daily Kashmir Reader, announcing the militants “would continue to the challenge the enemy”.
Experts pointed out that the poster was similar to a photograph through which Wani and 10 associates announced their entry into armed insurgency two years ago.
That photograph had gone viral, signalling the arrival of a new age of militancy fronted by well-educated youth who were social-media savvy and not afraid to be identified. It also broke away from earlier practices of Kashmiri militants wearing masks.
But police said the armed men in the recent poster looked sombre, unlike Wani, whose youthful looks and words attracted many to armed insurgency in the Valley. Most of the men in the earlier photo have died.
“The Burhan picture was full of life, the boys appeared stylish and suave. More than anything, they looked happy and convinced about what they were doing. This poster lacks that,’’ said a police source.
Wani’s killing triggered a two-week-long spiral of violence in the Valley that left 47 people dead and nearly 2,000 people wounded.
In its poster, the Hizbul challenged the “enemy” with an Urdu couplet, “Hum Jung ye jari rakhein gay, Kufar ko hum lalkareingey, Hum leke raheingey hak apna, duniya ko bata kar dum lengey,’’ (We will continue this war and fight the enemy. We will secure our rights and prove to the world) says the couplet
Wani’s death is seen as a blow to the outfit as the 22-year-old had become a poster boy for militancy in the Valley.
The son of a school principal, the young man quickly became the face of militancy on social media, attracting hordes of youth via video and audio messages, urging them to join the “holy war” and promising them “a fulfilled life”.
Officials said Wani never used masks, was clean-shaven and had the gift of the gab.
His words hit a chord and even educated people became his followers, said intelligence officials. For the first time in a decade, local militants outnumbered foreign operatives in the Valley. South Kashmir became the new hotbed of militancy.