A fierce gun battle between Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants and security forces continued on Wednesday in north Kashmir’s Sopore. The day also recorded the disturbing emergence of a new-age 20-something LeT recruit.
Athar Yousuf Dar was one of the six militants killed in the encounter. While the other five were Pakistanis, according to the police, Dar, a resident of Sopore, was pursuing his bachelor’s degree in commerce from a college in the Valley. Dar’s killing triggered stone pelting by youths and a spontaneous shutdown in Sopore on Wednesday. Dar was but one of the LeT’s around 50 fresh recruits of 2012 in Kashmir —mostly young students with knowledge of computers.
What is alarming is that this comes at a time when the state government is smug in its belief of peace reigning in the Valley.
A “religious” Dar “wanted to contribute to the Kashmir cause”, said his mother Sara Begum. “He would pray five times a day, besides performing pre-dawn prayers.”
These young LeT recruits are motivated by the 2010 street uprising, which left 113 people dead. “Dar was detained in 2010 and faced torture in jail for participating in protests,” said his father Muhammad Yousuf.
In the past three months, as many young local LeT recruits have been killed in the Valley.
“These are recruits on the security forces’ radar,” said a police officer.