Rare tactics paved way for this militant's long survival
Known as "master strategist and decoy expert", Jash-e-Muhammad's (JeM) last operational commander Qari Yasir, now slain, exceeded an average militant's active life, which is six to nine months, by strictly following no-woman, no-SIM cards and no-permanent friends rule.
Yasir (32), who infiltrated into the Valley in around 2006, was from Pakistan's Swat area, the most frequented by JeM founder Masood Azhar, released in exchange of hostages in 1999.
"Qari would pick up things from our operations too and strategise accordingly," said Kupwara superintendent of police Abdul Jabbar, whose men had to track movement of Yasir, using both technical and human intelligence, for around a month to zero in on his location.
Yasir, immediately after the Maidanpora encounter in 2011 that left five top commanders who were lured by a police source to a house were killed, changed his modus operandi and preferred crevices of mountains rather than population at foothills of Shamsbari mountain, straddling twin volatile district of Kupwara and Baramullah. Even crevices would be changed frequently and ratio procured for months together to avoid human interaction.
"He (Yasir) started avoiding both the baits used by the security agencies. Unlike other militants, he had no woman in life, no permanent SIM card and no friends. He was a full-time militant receiving militant groups, assigning them areas across the Valley, on the instructions of handlers across the border," said a senior officer of the counter-insurgency cell.
Of late, the police had started penetrating into the militant ranks by planting SIM cards; mainly at times plant them on militants' girlfriends, to identify the locations and to keep record of the conversations.
"Yasir used more than 60 SIM cards. Each card was used for shorter duration, before being tracked," said the officer.
For his rare survival tactics, Yasir took over entire Jaish command in 2011, immediately after the killing of Sajad Afghani in Srinagar.
Yasir, categorised as A++ by the security agencies, which is the highest, was trapped in a cowshed after the army launched an. Next morning, he was spotted hiding behind a stockpile of wood. In a brief encounter Yasir was killed, depleting Jash ranks to lowest ever less than 10.
There are chances that Yasir was lured to the house to have his sehri, a pre-dawn meals taken in Ramzan, and was killed around 5:30, just after morning prayers. No SIM card was found on his body.
"He had arrived at the house just a day before we launched the operation," said SP Jabbar.
The Jash-run militancy, which introduced suicide bombing in Kashmir in 1998, has almost come to a close with his killings.
"Elimination of Qari Yasir will result into a big jolt to the terror network operating in Kashmir Valley," said Lt Gen Gurmit Singh, Chinar Corps commander, immediately after the encounter.
Yasir's name has gone down among the few foreign militants to survive so long in the Valley, where a militant's age is between six to nine months.