Police officials said that the resurgence of JeM in Kashmir is masterminded by Nasrullah Mansoor Khan Langrial, who was in jail in India for 18 years and repatriated to Pakistan in 2011
SRINAGAR: More than 70 Jaish-e-Mohammed militants are believed to be active in Jammu and Kashmir, marking a strong revival of the Pakistan-headquartered group which was considered inoperative five years ago.
JeM is said to have been behind several fidayeen attacks in recent months, including on Sunjwan army camp in Jammu, Border Security Force camp outside Srinagar airport, Central Reserve Police Force camp near SMHS hospital in Srinagar and CRPF training camp in Lethpora, where the son of a J&K police official carried out an attack. “I am sure there will be more than 70 JeM terrorists active across Kashmir. This is a big and dangerous number keeping in view their experience, conviction and style of execution,” a senior police official privy to anti-militancy operations told ET on condition of anonymity.
According to police officials, JeM operatives are scattered across the Valley, with central Kashmir serving as transit route. JeM militants have strengthened their base in southern Kashmir, especially in Tral area of Awantipora and some parts of Shopian and Pulwama, where many locals have joined them, they said.
“We are also verifying information that two local boys from Hizb joined JeM recently. One more local who was involved in killing of a cop and rifle-snatching at Charar-e-Sharief has also joined JeM,” Pulwama’s senior superintendent of police Muhammad Aslam told ET.
Security experts said that said that the hanging and burial of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in Tihar jail on February 9, 2013, without informing his family first, gave a new lease of life to JeM, which had been dormant for many years after 2007. Within a year after Guru was hanged, JeM formed an ‘Afzal Guru squad’ to “avenge” the hanging and its members have been carrying out attacks since then, they said.
Moreover, with the killing of top Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commanders over the past year or so, JeM has seen quick ascendance among the militant groups active in J&K.
Although JeM is a UN designated terrorist organisation, China’s repeated efforts to block any attempt to list Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the organisation, as a globally designated terrorist, is also seen as a major boost for JeM.
Since its inception in 1998, JeM is said to have carried out several attacks such as the one on Parliament in 2001 and Pathankot Air Force station in 2016. Even as forces killed three top JeM commanders – Khalid Bhai, Noor Muhammad Tantray and Mufti Waqas – since October last year, the group is believed to have attracted more recruits.
Al Qalam, considered to be the mouthpiece of JeM, said on March 7 that Waqas was the best ‘mastermind’ after Gazi Baba and gave “fresh life to dormant JeM network in Kashmir Valley, streamlined the supply line and convinced many locals to join, who are now ready for their turn to carry out attacks”. Another series of columns of Al Qalam in February, details about the life of Tantray and praise this 48-year-old and three-foot tall militant from Tral. Through these write ups, police officials say JeM is apparently trying to send a message to their ‘veterans in Pakistan wooing them for re-entry into Jihad and engagement in Kashmir Valley.’
The group is currently represented in Kashmir by new commanders such as Fauji Bhai, who is about 45 years old, and Omar and Arsalan, who are aged between 25 and 30 years.
According to experts, JeM may resort to kidnappings this year to raise funds, along with fidayeen attacks and use of improvised explosive devices (IED) that it is known for.
“The scale of militant violence is going to increase majorly this year. Availability of weapon is also not a major problem now. The armour piercing bullets and other foreign weaponry is also coming to Kashmir through JeM,” said the senior police official cited earlier.
Police officials said that the resurgence of JeM in Kashmir is masterminded by Nasrullah Mansoor Khan Langrial, who was in jail in India for 18 years and repatriated to Pakistan in 2011.