Pak launches terror’s new face in Kashmir, Imran Khan follows up on Twitter
The Resistance Front, the brand-new terror group that has rushed to take responsibility for major terror attacks and firefights in Jammu and Kashmir over the past few weeks, is being controlled by three top handlers of the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan, an intelligence report submitted to national security planners in New Delhi has said.
The TRF was launched late last year after Parliament scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and divided the state into two centrally-administered union territories, Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Terror from Pak gets a makeover
The exercise is designed to give terror in Kashmir an indigenious face to ward off international pressure, particularly from the anti-terror financing watchdog FATF, over Pakistan sponsoring Islamist terror groups and what New Delhi describes as its jihadi terror factories.
This objective, a security official said, reflected the choice of names for the Inter Services Intelligence’s recent terror initiatives such as The Resistance Front or the low-key JK Pir Panjal Peace Forum. These names don’t have a religious label but suggest that it is a homebred.
The intelligence report said the Lashkar leaders formed the core of the TRF.
“TRF is being controlled from Pakistan by top three Lashkar handlers: Sajad Jatt for South Kashmir, Khalid for Central Kashmir and Hanzala Adnan for North Kashmir,” the intelligence report accessed by Hindustan Times said.
At this point of time, security officials said, the effort appeared to be to project the TRF as a formidable group to attract local recruits. Like when five terrorists and an equal number of army soldiers were killed in the Keran sector in early April, the TRF’s social media managers in Pakistan claimed responsibility.
The group even claimed responsibility for the gunfight in Handwara this weekend that cost security forces five lives including that of an army colonel. One of the two terrorists killed in the operation was later identified by the police as Lashkar commander Haider, a Pakistani national. The other was a local terrorist, a resident of Handwara.
“Almost every TRF terrorist, arrested or killed, has been listed in our records under the Lashkar-e-Taiba,” Jammu and Kashmir Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said. Lately, TRF had expanded their net and were also inducting Hizbul terrorists, he said.
“The idea is to show the world that what Kashmir has is local militancy,” said Kumar
Also Watch : Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo eliminated: All the key details
Imran Khan wades in
As Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday tweeted a swipe at India accusing New Delhi of trying to “find a pretext for a false flag operation targeting Pakistan” - it was seen to be a response to reports of Pakistan’s attempt to infiltrate terrorists - Khan underlined the claim that Kashmir’s troubles were home-grown.
“The Indigenous Kashmiri resistance against Indian Occupation is a direct consequence of India’s oppression & brutalisation of Kashmiris,” he tweeted.
Khan had last week brought in former director general of the Pak military’s Inter-Services Public Relations Lt Gen (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa as his new special assistant to lead his media team.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson followed up on Imran Khan’s tweet on Thursday with a detailed statement that elaborated Khan’s point.
“India must realise that it cannot break the will of the Kashmiri people and suppress their indigenous resistance movement through the use of force... We also categorically reject, once again, the baseless Indian allegations of infiltration,” spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said.
It was the second time this week that she was using the phrase.
The first was two days after the TRF claimed to be involved in the May 3 Handwara encounter involving the Lashkar commander, Haider. “Attributing this indigenous Kashmiri resistance to any alleged “infiltration” is a travesty,” she had tweeted on May 5.
How Lashkar hand-holds TRF in Kashmir
Back in Kashmir, intelligence officials said the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s old guard was focussing on getting TRF new recruits from the Kashmir valley.
In north Kashmir, officials said LeT terrorists such as Mehrajdduin Halwal were consolidating the TRF’s base on the ground. Its social media handles, which are being fed content traced back to locations in Pakistan, have been campaigning aggressively. The earliest version of its social media handles too had been traced to internet protocol addresses in Pakistan.
“We have now got this account on social media platform Telegram blocked,” Kashmir Police chief Vijay Kumar said, suggesting this is why the group had not put out any updates about the encounter that led to the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen’s boss in Kashmir Riyaz Naikoo.
For now, security officials expect the TRF to carry out grenade attacks, mostly using its overground workers or fresh recruits rather than risk its trained hands. A grenade attack, lobbed in Srinagar’s Hari Singh High Street in October last year was one of its first terror attacks. The group had, however, lost dozens of grenades when some of its overground workers ferrying AK-47 and grenades were caught by the police in March and are believed to be looking to replenish their supplies.