Srinagar, Aug 27: Fresh trends emerging from Jammu and Kashmir show that several local youth have been joining the newly formed Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a group which subscribes to the ideology of the Al-Qaeda.
The group is headed by Zakir Rashid Bhat alias Zakir Musa, who had broken away from the Hizbul Mujahideen to form the outfit. The acceptance of this group is steadily increasing as Musa emerged as the only terrorist who ended the 27-year-old show of separatists leaders from Hurriyat Conference and threatened them of beheading if they termed Kashmir as a political issue.
Musa's slogan of "Shariyat ya Shahadat" (Enforcing Islamic law or death) has replaced many age-old pro-Pakistan slogans, feel the officials who have been monitoring the security situation in the Kashmir Valley.
The 24-year-old engineering college drop-out has been able to capture the imagination of youths, especially after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani, who was killed in 2016.
Meanwhile data shows, till July 31, around 131 youths have joined various terror outfits with South Kashmir's Shopian district contributing the maximum of 35 so far. The number of local recruits last year was 126.
Believed to have been influenced by Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American preacher killed by allied forces attack in Afghanistan in September 2011, Musa has been mainly focussing on recruitment for his outfit and brainwashing the youths to pick up arms. Awlaki too was considered the brain behind recruitment for Al-Qaeda.
His motivational skills left terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayiba also in a fix when he was able to draw Abu Dujana into his group, the officials said. Abu Dujana was killed.
Though the Jammu and Kashmir Police has time and again termed Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind as a non-starter in the valley, the growing popularity and graffiti of his name and slogans have taken maximum spaces of towns and villages.
ISJK, an affiliate of the banned ISIS, was also a source of attraction for youths but after the killing of its chief Dawood Sofi, the group does not find many takers.
The officials of security agencies said the highly-volatile South Kashmir comprising Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam and Awantipora districts continued to contribute more youths to the militant groups and together these five districts have contributed over 100 youths to various terror groups operating in the Kashmir Valley.
This year's figures were the highest since 2010, according to a recent data presented in the state assembly and Parliament.
There has been a steady rise in the number of youths taking up arms in the valley since 2014 onwards as compared to the period from 2010 to 2013 when the figure stood at 54, 23, 21 and 6 respectively. In 2014, the number shot up to 53 and in 2015, it reached 66 before touching the highest mark of 88 in 2016, the data showed.