Hizbul vs Lashkar-e-Islam: The battle for supremacy
New Delhi, Sept 15: The discovery of bullet ridden bodies of the three youth at Kashmir's Baramulla district signals an ongoing war between militants.
Intelligence Bureau officials who have identified the three bodies tell OneIndia that their deaths may have been caused due to an ongoing feud for supremacy between the Lashkar-e-Islam and the Hizbul Mujahideen.
The three youth were killed by cadres of the Hizbul Mujahideen and dumped in an orchard and it was made to look like the deaths occurred due to police or military excess in the Valley, the IB officer also informed.
Who are these three youth?
On Monday the police had found three bodies with bullet marks at an orchard in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir. The youth who are in their early 20s have been identified as Amir Reshi of Sopore, Ashiq Ahmad Wani of Pattan and Basit of north Kashmir.
Investigations show that the three youth were all part of the Hizbul Mujahideen at first. However they broke away from the Hizbul and joined the Qayoom Najar run Lashkar-e-Islam or the LeI. The LeI mainly comprises former members of the Hizbul and there is a war on for supremacy in Jammu and Kashmir.
All the three youth were reported missing by their respective families. The police had in fact launched a massive manhunt for these youth. A missing complaint had been lodged by the respective families of these youth which led to the police launching a manhunt.
Killing two birds with one stone:
The split in the Hizbul led to the formation of the Lashar-e-Islam. The LeI has been adopting a very ISIS like functioning Jammu and Kashmir. The recent attacks on the telecom sector in Sopore were blamed in the LeI.
In these attacks there has been a tug of war for supremacy between the Hizbul and the LeI. In certain parts of Kashmir, the style of the LeI had impressed a large number of persons and several cadres of the Hizbul even shifted loyalties.
Looking at the incident on hand in which three youth were found dead, it becomes clear that the Hizbul was aiming at killing two birds with one stone. On one hand the killings send a strong message to the LeI and the cadre of the Hizbul that the consequences will be terrible if they shift loyalties.
Secondly after the bodies were found there was palpable tension in the area. Many were even trying to accuse the police and the military of excesses.
The Hizbul wants to turn the people of Kashmir against the police and in their recent recruitment drive they have even picked up three police officers. A recent video posted by the Hizbul questions the police as to why they are fighting against their own people.
A brief history of the LeI in Kashmir:
Najar the leader of the LeI was originally a Hizbul militant. He joined the Hizbul a decade ago, but due to a falling out he decided to launch his own outfit. Najar decided to use the name of the defunct LeI to further operations in Kashmir.
If one were to look at the history of the LeI, it was formed in the Khyber Agency of Pakistan in the year 2004 under the leadership of Haji Namdar and Mufti Shakir.
The decision to form this group was taken as its members wanted to dominate the area (Khyber) and propagate their own interpretation of Islam. The group was involved in a series of clashes with the Barelvi group in Khyber Agency which was led by Pir Saifur Rehman.
The Pakistan government had to step in and negotiate a truce as the violence had reached extreme levels. While peace returned, the group decided that it would appoint Mangal Afridi as its leader. Afridi who was appointed as the leader in 2007 launched a campaign to implement the Sharia law in the Khyber Agency.
However in Pakistan the group today is defunct and most of the cadres have moved into the Tehrik-e-Taliban. Najar in Kashmir decided to start his own outfit using the LeI banner. The LeI in Kashmir is fighting for supremacy and it is in a direct battle with the Hizbul.
The LeI has adapted a very ISIS style of functioning and has been responsible for issuing fatwas and promising the setting up of an Islamic Caliphate in Kashmir.