Government forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir killed a top militant who pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, officials said, describing his death as a major blow to militancy in the disputed territory. As the news of Zakir Musa’s death spread Thursday night hundreds of protestors spilled out on the streets and clashed with government forces in many areas, including in the main city of Srinagar.
Authorities cut cellular internet services across the Kashmir valley and imposed a curfew in large parts of the territory to stop the protests spreading. Musa, 25, was trapped alone late Thursday evening by soldiers and counterinsurgency police inside a hideout near the southern town of Tral and asked to surrender, a top police official told AFP.
Authorities cut cellular internet services across the Kashmir valley and imposed a curfew in large parts of the territory to stop the protests spreading.
“In return, he fired a grenade followed by bullets and was later killed during the ensuing gun battle,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Musa announced in 2017 the creation of his group Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind and declared his allegiance to Al-Qaeda, saying in a statement that he was fighting to establish an Islamic caliphate in Kashmir.
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India’s Most Wanted: Zakir Musa
On Thursday night, India’s defence spokesperson, Rajesh Kalia, announced that the operation has been called off and one militant was killed in the operation conducted at Dadsara, in the Tral region of occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Indian defence spokesperson Kalia stated, as cited by Economic Times, “”The (slain) terrorist was identified as Zakir Musa after the body was recovered Friday morning.
Weapons and war-like stores were recovered from the encounter site.” Musa dropped out of his engineering course in 2013 to join Kashmir’s largest militant group Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) fighting Indian rule and later became a part of a group led by charismatic militant Burhan Wani.
Musa announced in 2017 the creation of his group Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind and declared his allegiance to Al-Qaeda, saying in a statement that he was fighting to establish an Islamic caliphate in Kashmir.
Wani’s group deftly used social media to recruit young men into militancy by revealing their faces and openly challenged Indian rule. The death of the popular militant leader in 2016 sparked wide-scale protests across the territory that lasted months and left more than 100 civilians dead and thousands injured.
Musa later took Wani’s place, but in 2017 broke away from the group to form Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, which officials say was an offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Kashmir. It threatened separatist leaders opposed to Indian rule if they came in his way of fighting for a caliphate.
Read more: Pulwama attack: No Pakistani link found
HM, whose top leaders are based in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, later dissociated with Musa, most of whose associates have since been killed by government forces. “Musa was left with just one or two associates,” the police officer said. Media sources from India and occupied Kashmir reveal that the death of Zakir Musa is the “biggest victory” for the Indian armed forces since Burhan Wani was martyred.
Authorities remain unsure about the exact number of fighters in Musa’s Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind group. The Indian army confirmed his death with a brief statement, as cited by BBC, it read, “Op Dadasur (Pulwama). One terrorist killed. Terrorist identified as Zakir Musa. Weapons and warlike stores recovered. Operation over.”
Rebel groups including HM have been fighting for decades some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory New Delhi controls, seeking independence or a merger with Pakistan that administers a part of the divided former kingdom. Kashmir has been divided between the nuclear-armed rivals since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.
Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control
New Delhi regularly accuses Pakistan of supporting anti-India rebels fighting in Kashmir, a charge Islamabad denies saying it only provides moral and diplomatic support to a Kashmiri struggle for the right to self-determination. Pakistan has never hesitated to pledge its support to the cause of the innocent Kashmiris forced to live under a brutal Indian occupation.
The death of the popular militant leader in 2016 sparked wide-scale protests across the territory that lasted months and left more than 100 civilians dead and thousands injured.
Islamabad has raised this issue on every forum in the region and across the world, including the United Nations. Recently, during his regular press briefing at the Foreign Office on Thursday, FO spokesperson and Director General SAARC, Dr. Mohammad Faisal highlighted the plight of the Kashmiris and condemned India’s draconian laws.
Dr. Mohammad Faisal highlighted the newly published report, titled “Torture: Indian State’s Instrument of Control”, released by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons and the J&K Civil Society. He stressed that the report highlights the systemic Indian use of torture as a “matter of policy” to control the innocent Kashmiris.
Dr. Faisal said, “The report includes 432 case studies involving torture and maps trends and patterns showing the emergence of torture as a policy by India against Kashmiris in IOK and how it impacts the very existence of every Kashmiri in IOK. Indian occupation forces use torture, without distinction of gender or age, to suppress Kashmiri voices.”
The report highlights how Indian occupation forces have a free hand due to being granted judicial immunity, which is why, “not a single prosecution in any case of human rights violations has taken place.”
Pakistan has never hesitated to pledge its support to the cause of the innocent Kashmiris forced to live under a brutal Indian occupation.
DG SA and SAARC added, “The report also stresses the use of the so called Cordon and Search operations as a widely feared and established commonplace tool, where a large number of atrocities including mass sexual violence and torture, illegal arrests and extrajudicial killings routinely occur. The main targets of torture are young Kashmiris ‘labeled as stone pelters, often caught in a whirlpool of illegal or arbitrary detention, torture and continuous harassments making some of them lose all hope.”
Dr. Mohammad Faisal strongly condemned Indian atrocities in the valley, including the use of pellet gun and blinding innocent protestors, extrajudicial executions, tortures, illegal search and cordon operations and arbitrary killings. He urged Indian to allow access to the UN Commission of Inquiry and OIC-IPHRC Fact-Finding mission in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
Dr. Mohammad said, “It also raises the question as to why India is in denial and not allowing access to the UN Commission of Inquiry and OIC-IPHRC Fact-Finding mission to IoK if it really has nothing to hide. It is time for the champions of human rights to put aside political expediencies and speak out in favor of the Kashmiris struggling for the realization of the legitimate right to self-determination as promised to them by numerous UNSC resolutions and the international community.”
AFP with additional input and research by News Desk.