With Afzal Guru suicide squads, JeM attempts revival in Kashmir
Security agencies in Kashmir are looking into the role of militant squads named after the hanged Parliament attack-convict, Afzal Guru, in the deadly attack on an army camp in Uri on December 5.
The Hindustan Times has learnt that security officials believe the assault in Uri’s Mohura area may have been a “show piece attack” by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit which is trying to make a comeback in Kashmir after remaining on the sidelines for a long time.
Security officials say the Jaish has for med the Al-Shohada Brigade or Shaheed Afzal Guru Squad in the name of Guru who was hanged for involvement in the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.
The hanging in Februrary 2013 triggered widespread protests in the Valley, and militants vowed to avenge the execution. More than 16 youths in Kashmir have since joined militant ranks, police records reveal.
“Yes, the g roup for med squads in the name of Guru,” a top-most police officer confirmed to the HT. He said the Guru Squad is mainly a suicide squad meant for high-value targets.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group was founded in 2000 by Maulana Masood Azhar who was one among the three militants released in exchange of the hijacked passenger plane, IC 814, in 1999.
The militant group, believed to be behind the Parliament attack in 2001, was banned by Pakistan in 2002 during the Pervez Musharraf regime.
Sources said the Jaish’s primary focus since 2008 remained Afghanistan, but has now decided to return to Kashmir, where it remained almost absent post 2006. The group’s lone commander and handler Qari Yasir was killed in June 2013.
The group’s activities in the Valley started early this year when the police killed three Jaish militants in north Kashmir’s Sopore area. Another two were killed in May and June.
On September 2, the security forces killed three Jaish militants in an 18-hour long gunbattle in Pulwama district. Around half a dozen Jaish militants have also been arrested since last year.
Followers of the hardline interpretation of Islam, the Jaish, unlike the indigenous group Hizbul Mujahideen, believe in making a spectacle through their suicide squads. In 2009, the group was part of attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan.