In terms of the number of incidents and the involvement of terror outfits in carrying out each one of those, two things need to be looked at –
the nature of the incidents and those owing responsibility for them. A look at the timeline of the incidents is crucial in this respect.
Table 1: Timeline of targeted killings (2020-22)
|Date ||Incident ||Undertaken
|1 January 2021 ||Satpal Nischal, jeweller in Srinagar and first
to get domicile in J&K under new law killed ||TRF |
|2 June 2021
||Rakesh Pandita, BJP leader, killed in Pulwama || |
|23 July 2021 ||Javid Ahmed Malik, peon in a school in Pashtuna, shot dead ||HM |
|9 August 2021 ||Ghulam
Rasool Dar of the BJP and his wife, Sarpanch and Panch of a village in Kulgam ||TRF |
|17 August 2021 ||Javid Ahmad Dar of the BJP shot dead in Kulgam ||TRF
|19 August 2021 ||Ghulam Hussain Lone of the JK Apni Party || |
|6 September 2021 ||Sarpanch Mehrajdin Mir killed in Sopore in Baramulla || |
|17 September 2021 ||Shankar Chaudhary, labourer from Bihar, killed in KulgamRailway Constable Bantu Sharma shot dead in Kulgam || |
|5 October 2021 ||Makhanlal
Bindroo, Kashmiri Pandit chemist shop owner killed in SrinagarVirendra Paswan, chaat seller from Bihar killed in SrinagarMohd Shafi Lone, President of cab drivers’ association killed in Naidkhai area of Shahgund ||TRF |
|7 October 2021 ||School
principal Supinder Kour and teacher Deepak Chand shot dead in school in SrinagarTwo labourers Raja Reshi Dev and Joginder Reshi Dev shot at in Kulgam ||TRF ULF
|16 October 2021 ||Arvind Kumar Sah, labourer from Bihar, shot dead in SrinagarSagir
Ahmed, labourer from UP, gunned down in Pulwama ||ULF |
|8 November 2021
||Mohd Ibrahim Khan, salesman of Pandit businessman Sandeep Mawa shot dead in Srinagar ||LeT
|2 March 2022 ||Panch identified as Mohammad Yaqoob Dar of Kulpora Srandroo Kulgam
shot dead at his residence ||HM |
|9 March 2022 ||PDP Sarpanch Sameer Bhat was killed in Khonmoh area of Srinagar ||TRF |
|11 March 2022 ||Sarpanch identified as Shabir Ahmed Mir from Audoora Kulgam killed near his residence
|4 April 2022 ||Kashmiri Pandit Sonu Kumar Balaji shot at in Shopian, injured ||Not clear |
|13 April 2022 ||Satish Kumar Singh, a Kashmiri Rajput, shot dead inside his home in Kulgam’s Kakran ||Kashmir Fighters |
|15 April 2022 ||Independent sarpanch namely Manzoor Bangroo killed by militants in Pattan area of Baramulla district ||LeT |
|12 May 2022 ||Kashmiri Pandit Rahul Bhat working in revenue department killed in Tehsil office Chadoora Budgam ||TRF |
|15 May 2022 ||Ranjit Singh, employee at Liquor shop in Baramulla, killed in a grenade attack inside the liquor shop ||Not clear |
|26 May 2022 ||TV artist Amreena Bhat of Hushroo, Chadoora killed in her home ||LeT |
|31 May 2022 ||Hindu teacher,
Rajini from Samba, killed by militants in Gopalpora Kulgam ||TRF |
June 2022 ||Vijay Kumar, a bank manager at Ellaquai Dehati Bank, hailing from Rajasthan killed inside his officeTwo migrant labourers shot in Budgam’s Chadoora. One
of them identified as Dilkhush (resident of Bihar) dies ||TRF |
Source: Data compiled by author from news reports.
While not exhaustive, the table lists major incidents
of targeted killings that followed the abrogation of Article 370.13 Majority
of victims are identified as Kashmiri Pandits, a Sikh, and Hindu migrant labourers. A number of Muslim civilians too have become targets of these outfits. However, it is notable that most of these targeted killings involving Muslim victims, Kashmiri or otherwise,
carry some political motivations. For instance, they belonged to the local BJP cadres, or Sarpanches, or were working for the government. This made them ‘stooges’ of the government and hence were targeted. Non-Muslim victims like migrant workers
or school principals and bank employees, though, have often been singled out for their communal identity.
While a majority of these attacks have been claimed by the TRF (along with a handful linked to the HM and the LeT), it is noteworthy that in each of these attacks, open claims have been made only by the newer outfits – most prominently the TRF.
No official statements claiming such attacks have been released by the LeT or HM since.
fact that most of these new organisations are termed as Front Organisations of the previously existing ones,14 it could partly explain why older militant organisations have not made any recent claims. Most of these attacks are claimed by the TRF even as no significant recruitment has been recorded by the organisation since its inception
(as depicted in Graph 1). The possibility that the new ‘secular’ outfits are but a mere cover for the pre-existing Pakistan-sponsored organisations is more likely the bitter truth.
War in the Information Domain
While the appearance and language of communication has been carefully ‘secularised’, the militancy in its essence – in terms of the ability to gather popular support, its choice of targeted killings, and the objectives
driving the selection of targets for attacks, has remained communal. In terms of local recruitments, the previously existing Islamist outfits continue to attract more recruits. The targeted killings reflect motivations of these outfit to hamper rehabilitation
efforts of Pandits. The en masse withdrawal of Kashmiri Pandits following the murder of Vijay Kumar on June 2 is a case in point.15
Pakistan’s compulsions with the Paris-based watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is an important reason accounting for the drying up of Pakistani sponsorship to terror outfits in terms of funds and weaponry. Given
that the consequences of Islamist terrorism have adversely affected most of the Western world, the popular acceptability of any struggle following an Islamist path has generally decreased over the years. With India highlighting Pakistani involvement in sponsoring
terror and destabilising the country’s internal security, international perceptions have indeed experienced a gradual shift. The 2016 Uri attack and 2019 Pulwama attack only further strengthened India’s case before the international community.
Post-abrogation of Article 370, India successfully ensured that the internal political rearrangement did not
attract negative international attention, despite vocal efforts by Pakistan and Turkey. This waning international support has led militant groups to seek renewed legitimacy and support for their activities, in the garb of calls for safeguarding human rights
and rhetoric of ‘struggle for resistance’ against ‘occupational forces’ as opposed to previous calls for jihad. The nomenclature, iconography, and language appear to aim to portray the militancy as a strictly indigenous
movement for ‘freedom’ with no external actors and interests involved. The idea also appears to target sections of the national population who might be possibly influenced by calls for ‘justice’ and ‘freedom’ as opposed
to that of ‘jihad against infidels’.
Despite the best efforts of militant outfits and their masters, international perceptions have reflected little change. The popular
support within the Valley for a ‘secular’ face of militancy is limited as well. However, the use of these new organisations as fronts for other Pakistan-backed Islamist organisations could sustain militancy in the state. This calls for careful
monitoring of their tactics, modus operandi, reach, and popular response to their influence operations. The operations of these fronts in the information domain must be tackled at par with those in the physical domain. After all, every act in
the physical domain emerges from an idea in the cognitive domain – through information consumed, or on many occasions, force fed.
06 Jul 22/Wednesday