A top Hizbul Mujahideen leader has threatened to behead separatist Hurriyat leaders for calling Kashmir a political struggle instead of a religious war for the creation of an “Islamic state”.
The threat is believed to be the first against the Hurriyat leadership who are acknowledged to represent the political views of a section of Kashmiris and had earlier held talks with the state and central governments many times.
The message was delivered through a video clip which contained a montage of slides showing Islamic quotes about Islam and Sharia. The person who is heard in the clip is not shown. He did not identify himself but is believed to be of local Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa.
Calling Hurriyat leaders “hypocrites, infidels, followers of evil”, the militant warned to chop off their heads “if they create hurdles in the path of making Kashmir an Islamic state”.
The militant also said the heads will be hanged in Lal Chowk in Srinagar, an area known as the nerve centre of anti-India protests. The clip appeared two days after militants suspected to be from the HM abducted and killed an army officer on leave in Shopian.
In a joint statement issued a few days ago, hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and two moderates -- Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Mallik -- had said the freedom struggle in Kashmir has nothing to do with ISIS or al Qaeda.
They said there was no role for these groups in “Kashmir’s political struggle”.
“Terrorism and freedom movement are polls apart,” they said.
The video starts with a quote of a slain militant, Imam Anwar Al Awlaki, an American-born Muslim scholar and cleric who acted as spokesperson for al Qaeda.
“We just want to ask these hypocrites if Kashmir is a political issue (then) why are you raising slogans like ‘Azadi ka matlab kya (What is the meaning of freedom). La Illaha Ilallah’, ‘Pakistan say rishta kya (With is the relation with Pakistan). La Illaha Ilallah’,” the militant said, referring to the Hurriyat leaders’ frequent use of the phrase, “There is no one but Allah”.
“Why do you come and address people in mosques?”, the leader said in the clip which first surfaced on social media and has been circulated throughout the valley and beyond.
Hindustan Times could not verify the authenticity of the clip.
However, police sources said the voice matched Musa’s earlier video and audio clips.
Zakir Musa, who joined militancy after leaving his BTech course in Chandigarh, has been touted as the successor of militant commander Burhan Wani, whose killing last year sparked months-long streets protests in the valley.
Wani, son of a school headmaster, was the first militant to use social media to propagate messages.
The trend continued after his death though Kashmir experts believe “militants post Burhan lack his communication skills”.
“Burhan sounded convincing, his messages had local appeal, Zakir lacks that,” said a senior police officer from South Kashmir.
The clip, which has gone viral, has generated debate in Kashmir, with some calling it a handiwork of “Indian agencies”. Many expressed shock over targeting senior separatist leaders.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, the spokesman for the Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference, Ayaz Akbar said, the organisation was “looking into the matter”.
“However, we stand by our earlier statement,” he added.