The recovery of the photograph of two suspected Chechen fighters, armed to their teeth, from a slain militant in north Kashmir has created a flutter in the state police force.
Jammu and Kashmir police launched a massive manhunt to nab the foreign fighters, but refused to confirm their nationality. The two are being referred to as Umar and Usman.
“We are not sure about the location and nationality of those in the picture. The photograph needs to be authenticated with regard to the location,” said state police chief Shiv Murari Sahai.
The two foreigners have Caucasian features common among the people from the central Asian region. Chechen and Sudanese militants joined the ranks of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in the early 1990s.
A police source said that of late, the militant leadership had been taken up by the indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen. “The Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkatul Mujahideen have been sidelined.”
The police are reluctant to release any detail of the ongoing operation at Sopore, 55 km from summer capital Srinagar, although Handwara and Sopore districts in north Kashmir are witnessing heightened militant activities, with about 90 militants active in the area.
The source said, “It’s difficult to have a police mole in the militant ranks in Sopore”, as the new crop of militants was highly motivated and better organised.