Fresh group picture of militants goes viral in Kashmir | KNO

Fresh group picture of militants goes viral in Kashmir | KNO

Kashmir News Observer (KNO)

The militants in Kashmir have released a picture of a group of 14 armed youth on the pattern of a 2105 picture of the "Burhan group", on social media which according to experts lend help in recruiting youths in militancy. The picture of the "group of 14" armed with assault rifles, which seems to have been shot in an orchard, has gone viral on social media in Kashmir.

Pertinently, the picture is similar to the one released by slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in June 2015. Those figuring in that "group of 11" have been almost killed in different encounters, with a lone surviving militant in police custody, the last one in that group Sadam Paddar was killed in Shopian along with a professor. Burhan was killed in an encounter with government forces on July 8, 2016, and his killing triggered a more than six-month-long unrest in the Valley, during which over 100 people were killed and thousands others injured in pellet.

The identity of the 14 militants who figure in the recently released picture is being ascertained by the police. Police sources said one among the "group of 14" appears to be Shams ul Haq Mengnoo, who is the brother of an IPS officer posted in the north-east. Shamas had gone missing in May this year and recently his picture with an AK-47 rifle had gone viral on social media. In the picture, it was mentioned that he had joined Hizb and his code name was "Burhan , the second". A police official said they were ascertaining the identity of the other militants in the "group of 14".

He said the release of the photo of 14 militants with rifles was "a propaganda tool" for the militants to lure youth to militancy. The trend of youth joining militancy has picked up in the Valley after Burhan's killing. About 80-100 youth have joined militancy in the Valley so far. Last year, about 127 local youth had joined militancy in Kashmir. Pertinently, the rising militancy in Kashmir particularly soon after the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in 2016 has emerged as a major concern for government forces with every other day trigging encounters between local armed youths and forces. The encounters also led the killing of civilians causing uncertainty Valley wide.